It was a battle of the bulldogs Friday night as Turlock High took on Tracy High, and with their 24-7 win Turlock evened the score of a rivalry that began two seasons ago.
“Tracy is a tough opponent, and we’ve kind of turned this into a rivalry game,” said head coach James Peterson. “In 2014 they got us twice in the same year and beat us by a total of four points, then we came back in 2015 and got the 'W.' To do it again this year is just really special for our seniors and all of our guys.”
After starting the season 0-2, Turlock was able to notch their first victory of the season thanks to a stellar second half and an impressive defensive game.
Tracy’s only score of the night came by way of a recovered fumble which was returned for a touchdown in the first minutes of the game. Turlock’s defense ensured Tracy didn’t enter the end zone for the remainder of the game, with Mustafa Johnson leading the defensive charge by way of 12 tackles and a forced fumble.
“They came out and executed the plan we worked on all week,” said Peterson. “If we can play that kind of defense, it’s gonna be exciting to see what’s up for us down the road.”
In a first half that saw little action from Turlock, the offense caught fire with three minutes left in the second quarter. Quarterback Danny Velasquez connected with Dylan Cummings on a 59-yard pass to make the score 7-7, giving the Blue and Gold momentum going into halftime.
In the second half, Turlock continued their offensive attack. After stopping numerous drive attempts from Tracy, Tyler Etharidge completed a 27-yard run to set the team up for their next touchdown. Dustin Grein was able to run into the end zone from the 4-yard line with five minutes left in the third quarter, making the score 14-7.
In the beginning of the fourth quarter, any energy that Tracy had was weakened as Gabriel Cordero rushed in for a sack, allowing Turlock to take over on downs. Velazquez then found sophomore Cameran Sherwood with a 49-yard pass which was ran in for a touchdown, bringing the score to 21-7.
Following the touchdown, Tracy began with the ball at Turlock’s 17-yard line but immediately surrendered possession after a three and out was forced by Turlock. Following Tracy’s punt, Turlock brought the ball back to their 40-yard line where they were able to kick a field goal to make the final score of the game 24-7.
Tracy’s last possession was fittingly capitalized by a sack from Johnson, continuing the defensive prowess that Turlock displayed throughout the course of the game. Along with Johnson, other standout defenders included Dominic Silva, Breck Jeffus and Marco Lopez.
Peterson commended his team for coming out stronger in the second half.
“At halftime we said what we always say to them: come out and play every snap, give 100 percent of yourself and give it all you’ve got.”
Turlock will take on the undefeated Modesto High Panthers next week at Downey High School beginning at 7 p.m.