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Panthers pull away from Dawgs in football
Ceres High standout running back Johnni Smith-Willis exits Friday's game versus Modesto High. Smith-Willis suffered a concussion after taking a hit to the head late in the third quarter. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Johnni Smith-Willis remained motionless on the field for several minutes.

Trailing 28-14 late in the third quarter, Ceres High's standout running back suffered a concussion after taking a shot to the helmet and was sidelined for the rest of the game as the Bulldogs opened the 2015 campaign with a 42-21 loss to Modesto High Friday night at Johansen's Dan Gonsalves Stadium.

Smith-Willis totaled 29 yards on 11 carries.

Johnni rushed for 825 yards and nine touchdowns in nine games for Ceres High last year.

"It was a shame that had to happen," Bulldogs junior quarterback Chris Lubinsky said. "He was doing everything he could to help out. He's capable of creating a big play every time he touches the ball."

Lubinsky completed 18 of 30 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns while making his first start at varsity quarterback.

Chris accounted for the Bulldogs' lone turnover-an interception that ended a potential game-tying drive in the second quarter.

Modesto High took advantage of the costly mistake en route to pulling away for a 21-point victory.

"There were a lot of bright spots in the game," Lubinsky said. "We made some good plays on offense. It's definitely something to build on."

Ceres High receiver Austin Stiles caught seven passes for 145 yards and one touchdown.

Fellow wideout Austin Crain totaled 43 yards and one TD on four receptions.

Tight end Conner Johnson had 15 yards on three receptions.

All-purpose player Seth Gibson returned a kickoff 96 yards for a score.

Modesto High piled up 433 yards of offense, including 286 and four scores on the ground.

Aaron Black led Ceres High's defense with 10 tackles.

Nick Alcala had six tackles and one interception.

Wyatt Ogden added two tackles and one interception.

The Bulldogs trailed 28-14 at the break.

Lubinsky connected with Crain for a 20-yard TD in the first quarter.

Gibson had a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown in the second quarter.

Stiles hauled in an 80-yard TD pass from Lubinsky in the fourth quarter.

"That game could have been completely different," Durossette said. "We had some dropped passes and a few bad reads. Defensively, we didn't do a good job containing him."

Gibson, Ogden and Gabe Jimenez will fill in for Smith-Willis during Friday evening's road contest against Gregori (1-0). Kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m.

"Gregori is really good," Durossette said. "They're big and fast."

Added Lubinsky: "We'll play for Johnni."