By Julian Lopez, Modesto Bee
OAKLAND - Four minutes into Friday’s season opener against the defending state champions, Modesto Junior College was trailing 13-0.
Laney had a four-play, 75-yard drive to score and then the Pirates fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which led to another touchdown.
Besides being the opener, Netflix picked Laney this season as the focus of its show, Last Chance U, a documentary series that follows around a community college football team for an entire season.
Yet, under the glare of the lights and the focus of Netflix cameras (the show airs in 2020), the Pirates kept their cool, rallying for a 33-20 victory.
“Our guys didn’t even flinch,” Pirates coach Rusty Stivers said. “There was no panic. They just played football.”
MJC seemed at home in the spotlight.
“It’s temporary joy,” Stivers said. “It’s just the first game and we are still in preseason.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Danny Velasquez (Turlock) had 190 passing yards and a touchdown and 23 carries for 89 yards and three touchdowns.
After Velasquez scored on an 8-yard run to cut the lead to six, MJC scored on a fake field goal attempt in the second quarter to take a 14-13 lead.
Sophomore quarterback Brett Neves (Downey) connected with sophomore tight end Rory Hanson (Modesto Christian) for 21 yards and the touchdown.
“That play really got us going,” Stivers said. “It was the spark that started us on offense.”
After Laney took a 20-14 lead with a little over 11 minutes left in the third, MJC scored 19 unanswered points.
Velasquez evaded defenders and hurdled over one for a touchdown and MJC ran the ball efficiently in the second half, thanks to something Stivers hadn’t done since he started calling plays in 2006.
“We were using fullbacks and tight ends at the same time to block,” he said.
“It was a highly-competitive game with lots of distractions,” Stivers said. “But they just played ball and didn’t get riled up with the extra attention.”
The Pirates host Sierra at 6 p.m. next Saturday.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
Diablo Valley 49, West Hills 26
Gavilan 24, Los Medanos 7
Modesto 33, Laney 20
American River 27, Sacramento 0
Butte 46, San Joaquin Delta 10
Cabrillo 31, Contra Costa 7
Foothill 27, Merced 6
Fresno 35, Santa Rosa 17
Hartnell 28, Yuba 3
Monterey Peninsula 51, Redwoods 34
Reedley 47, De Anza 28
San Francisco 37, Sierra 29
San Mateo 44, Siskiyous 7
Sequoias 30, Feather River 24 (OT)
Shasta 26, Chabot 3
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
Antelope Valley 27, Glendale 21
Cerritos 21, East Los Angeles 7
Chaffey 44, Los Angeles Harbor 27
Citrus 26, West Los Angeles 16
Fullerton 38, Golden West 33
Long Beach 55, Grossmont 24
Mt. San Antonio 34, Bakersfield 7
Mt. San Jacinto 42, Los Angeles Pierce 34
Palomar 30, Moorpark 19
Pasadena 22, Desert 13
Riverside 55, El Camino 17
Saddleback 45, Canyons 20
San Bernardino Valley 80, Santa Ana 48
San Diego Mesa 14, Southwestern 4
Santa Barbara 57, Compton 6
Santa Monica 32, Los Angeles Southwest 6
Ventura 45, Orange Coast 7
Victor Valley 28, Los Angeles Valley 0
Byes: Allan Hancock, San Jose