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MODESTO
– While the Modesto Junior College Pirates came off the field
Saturday night with a fourth straight victory, 60-20, the Gavilan
Rams had reason for optimism after playing a strong second half
against a top-rated team from an ‘A’ conference.
MODESTO – While the Modesto Junior College Pirates came off the field Saturday night with a fourth straight victory, 60-20, the Gavilan Rams had reason for optimism after playing a strong second half against a top-rated team from an ‘A’ conference.

The Pirates, using an offensive system styled after the University of Oregon, scored seven unanswered touchdowns in the first half. The hosts produced a 421-59 edge in total offense and 25-5 margin in first downs on the way to a 47-0 lead.

Gavilan responded with three touchdowns in the second half, using 220 yards of total offense to scored 20 points. The Rams were coming off consecutive shut-outs the past two weeks.

“Our offense and special teams took a step forward,” said first-year head coach Spencer Gilford. “Our defense took a step back, but we found something we can build on.”

Jakari Johnson was effective for the Rams on kick-off returns, rushes and receiving against the Pirates. The freshman covered 96 yards on three kick-off returns, ran 32 yards on seven carries and made five catches for 104 yards and one touchdown.

“That Gavilan team showed a lot of fighting spirit,” said Modesto coach Sam Young. “They wouldn’t give up.”

A 31-yard kick-off return by Johnson to begin the second half set up a 52-yard scoring drive in nine plays.

Quarterback Nate Ellis threw twice to Johnson for first downs on the march before slanting over the final four yards on a keeper with 10:03 left in the third quarter.

Starting Pirate quarterback Quinton McCown played only in the first half, netting 233 yards on an 18-for-20 throwing effort and three touchdowns. McCown, throwing slants and screens, connected on his first 11 pass attempts. His one incompletion was on a dropped ball, while Kendrick Page picked off a deflected attempt for a Ram interception.

As Jackson Meyer took over at quarterback, the Pirates turned to the running game to take a 53-6 lead when Rodney Daniels turned a draw play into a 45-yard TD run.

Two series later, Gavilan earned another touchdown. After an Ellis completion for 39 yards to Shakieth Fields, Edward Bernard cut through the Pirate defense for a 19-yard TD run with 10:48 left in the game.

Meyer, 5-for-5 for 61 yards in limited passing in the second half, hit Javon Kelly for a 27-yard slant pass for the final Pirate touchdown.

When the Rams stopped a Modesto fourth-down play with 4;33 left, Omar Kharoob’s fly pattern pass to Johnson behind the secondary turned into a 66-yard scoring play with 4;25 left. Kharoob, subbing for Ellis when the starter suffered an ankle bruise, added a two-point PAT pass to James Furr.

Ellis led the Gavilan rushers with 34 yards in 10 attempts. One week after having only one rusher with positive yardage and no yards through the air, all five Gavilan rushers had positive yardage and the passing game went 9-for-23 for 175 yards.

The Pirates built a 20-0 lead after 5:52 of play. Aaron Fields ran 47 yards to paydirt with 43 second gone in the game. McCown ran an option in from four yards out for a 14-0 cushion, then threw a 16-yard TD slant to David Gianesin for the 20-0 edge.

Defensive back Kris Dipko intercepted three Ellis passes in the first half as Modesto spent most of the first 30 minutes on offense. The Pirates produced a pair of one-yard TD runs to go along with two scoring strikes of 15 yards from McCown.

Gavilan plays Contra Costa, a member of a ‘C’ conference, Saturday at 5pm in the non-conference finale at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex.

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