Turlock High varsity football dropped its regular season opener in back-to-back years after falling to Freedom High on Friday night from Joe Debely in a much closer contest than last year’s matchup.
Freedom toppled Turlock 41-6 a year ago, but things were different this time around.
The Bulldogs matched the physicality of Falcons from start to finish in the trenches, but a handful of penalties along with miscues on all sides of the ball led to a slide in the second half that eventually ended in a 34-16 loss for Turlock in their home season opener.
“Our inexperience showed tonight,” said Turlock head coach James Peterson. “We have talked about the guys we graduated and about the young guys who have to step up and be leaders. Well tonight I don’t think we identified ourselves as leaders … those guys didn’t do it, but I have to do a better job as the head coach in getting my guys prepared.”
Turlock scored first in the game after Dallin Tilby drilled a 26-yard field goal down the middle, splitting the uprights and taking a 3-0 lead with 5:37 on the clock in the first quarter.
The ensuing drive led to over three flags called against Turlock, keeping Freedom’s drive alive until they eventually got on the board with a 23-yard toss to make it 7-3.
Turlock went three and out and Freedom once again responded with a second consecutive 16-play scoring drive that put them up 10-3 with 4:41 left in the first half. The same score carried into the third.
“We struggled on offense a little bit. When Mark Flores went down this week we knew we would have a tough time running the inside game and it definitely showed tonight,” said Peterson. “I just didn’t know how much of an affect it would have, but we did struggle to get some things going early on.”
The ‘Dogs played aggressive up front and it showed early on. The team amassed four sacks and six quarterback hurries in the first half alone.
Despite their toughness, the offense only managed 74 yards in total for the first half while Freedom accumulated 150.
“We need to work on the blocking scheme with those guys moving their feet like they did last year,” said Peterson. “I felt like physically we handled ourselves at our scrimmage and felt we could go to Clovis and compete, but we need to clean up the little mistakes, things we can control… we have to fix.”
Freedom outscored Turlock in the second half 24-13, but scored 17 of their points in the final 9 minutes and 33 seconds.
Lucas Curtis scored the first one for Turlock with 6:16 left in the fourth to cut the lead by 10 points at 20-10.
Senior receiver Jordan Porter scored Turlock’s second touchdown after stealing the ball in the air from a Freedom defender on the end zone corner off a 29-yard pass from quarterback Jonah Kosakiewicz with 2:53 left in the game.
The next game for Turlock will be on road against one of their three losses last year, Clovis High, at 7 p.m. Friday.