Turlock High began the 2014 football season the way every team hopes to —with a win. The Bulldogs traveled to Modesto to face Enochs High and came home with a tight 25-20 victory.
In a night where the scoreboard was not working, the first half was lengthy and action-packed after both teams matched each other blow for blow on the line.
Turlock was able to pull away with a 7-6 lead heading into the locker room after Bubba Moreno found Zach Moore wide open in the end zone for a one-yard touchdown throw — but that was only the beginning.
Both teams scored a combined 32 points in the second half, but it was the Bulldogs front seven on the defense and quarterback Moreno who helped the team capture the win at Downey High.
“I felt like the game was a lot closer than it should’ve been. We let them stay in the game pretty much. We didn’t take the game when we had a chance, several times,” said Turlock head coach James Peterson.
The game was a mismatch despite the struggles with turnovers and a lack of coverage on passing plays from the Turlock backfield, but the front seven led by Andy Jennings, Zach Moore and Mustafa Noel-Johnson was able to contain the Enochs offense.
Enochs quarterback Shawn Munoz, along with running back Eddie Alderson and receiver Caden Rico, did some damage to the visiting Bulldogs, but Turlock managed to control the line of scrimmage, despite giving up four sacks.
Moreno and company kept their cool in tough times and after the second half started, Jennings was able to bolster his way into the end zone with an eight-yard run to put his team up 13-6 after the extra point was missed.
“[Moreno] kept his composure, some things didn’t always go his way and I thought he kept his head on straight and [I'm] proud of him,” Peterson said. “As far as running the ball, I think that’s what we need to do with this offense to keep the opposition honest.”
Enochs nabbed its second score of the game with a 25-yard pass from Munoz to Rico but Turlock's defense stopped the two-point conversion attempt and the Bulldogs held on to the lead at 13-12 with just over four minutes left in the third.
Moreno finished the game with 11 carries and tallied 155 yards on the ground with a passing and rushing touchdown.
Two touchdown drops came from Jeffery Hines after being wide open, twice, and failing to hold on, which made the Turlock offense—again—look as if they were struggling.
Eight penalties, four drops and four fumbles came from the Turlock team, but luckily the defense kept the team intact after picking off Munoz twice and constantly hitting the opposition—hard.
The big play for the defense came late in the third quarter from senior Moore after Jennings fumbled inside the goal line and gave Enochs the ball. Then, in the first play, Moore powered his way from the outside shoulder of Munoz and forced the fumble at the one-yard line.
Moreno ran the ball in for the score and the ‘Dogs were able to take a 19-12 lead after missing their second consecutive extra point.
“In the red zone we have got to convert, we shot ourselves in the foot, dropped balls, false starts and it’s a little bit of everything in every position,” said Peterson. “It’s a team victory and we are happy to get the victory but, obviously, there are a lot of things we need to polish up.”
Andrew Lopez then made a 10-yard run with about seven minutes left in the fourth to put his team up 25-12 after failing to convert a two-point conversion.
Things seemed settled but the Enochs offense marched down the field and after a questionable helmet-to-helmet penalty on Noel-Johnson inside the five-yard line on a critical fourth down, Enochs was given a first and goal and Munoz tossed the final touchdown of the game to cut the lead to 25-20.
After stopping Moreno and the offense, Enochs took over. Four plays later the defense managed to hold on and the winning formation was set with under two minutes as Moreno took the knee to end it.
Turlock will visit Oakdale at 7 p.m. next Friday, just before their home opener on Sept. 12.
“We're going to look at things and make changes for next week, that’s what we do,” Peterson said. “We just gotta get ready for Oakdale, we practice on Monday, Labor Day, and we know about Oakdale, we've been playing them for a long time.”