MODESTO -- Matt Raggio never saw it coming. As soon as Golden Valley coach Jon Betschart finished his postgame speech, Raggio found himself on the bottom of a dogpile.
Raggio didn't mind.
The Golden Valley defensive lineman put the finishing touches on GV's 28-14 victory over Modesto on Thursday night when he picked up a fumble and huffed 20 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
"I just saw the ball, scooped it up and ran," Raggio said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
"I couldn't believe it. What an awesome feeling."
It only seemed fitting the Golden Valley defense delivered the knockout blow on a night that it forced nine turnovers.
If you were wearing a Golden Valley uniform and didn't intercept a pass, you just weren't trying. GV finished with six interceptions.
"We were working hard tonight," said GV safety J.J. Terry, who snagged three interceptions. "In that loss against Sonora last week,
we didn't feel we earned our paychecks. We wanted to double our paychecks tonight."
Modesto quarterback Chad Bradley completed 14 of 34 passes for 148 yards before being pulled after throwing his fifth interception late in the third quarter.
Golden Valley's offense struggled to capitalize on any of the turnovers. GV turned the ball over three times itself and had two field goal attempts blocked.
"We had a new quarterback, Sergio (Gutierrez), who played hard," Betschart said. "There's still a learning curve for us offensively. We need to tighten it up this week."
Golden Valley had success moving the ball in the first half.
GV racked up 257 yards of total offense in the first two quarters on its way to building a 21-7 lead at the half.
Lee Xiong scored on a 24-yard run and Gutierrez scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to give Golden Valley a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Matt Montiel added a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and finished with a team high 70 yards on eight carries.
When the Golden Valley offense sputtered in the second half, the defense shut down Modesto's spread offense.
Terry stopped Modesto's first two second-half drives himself with interceptions No. 2 and 3.
"I basically just read the quarterback," Terry said.
"I looked at his eyes to see where he was going."
Modesto receiver Bryan Johnson cut the lead to 21-14 when he hauled in a 7-yard touchdown from back-up quarterback Trevor Hindman on the final play of the third quarter.
Johnson finished with 11 catches for 136 yards.
Golden Valley finally put the game away when defensive lineman Javier Rodriguez sacked Hindman and forced a fumble that set up Raggio's touchdown.
That one gave GV a 28-14 lead with 3:31 left in the game.
"We'll take it," Betschart said. "What a moment for Matt Raggio. That was fun."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at Sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.