The Turlock High varsity football team kicked off league play on a high note Friday night with an exciting victory over Downey High, outscoring their opponents 30-24 in a game that came down to the final seconds.
Bulldog quarterback Jonah Kosakiewicz said the team came into their first Central California Athletic League game with a chip on their shoulder after finishing pre-league play 2-3, and after working hard during their bye week Turlock came out playing hard — not without a few setbacks, however.
Things started slow for the Bulldogs, who had four empty red zone possessions and six fumbles in the first half alone. A fumble by Kosakiewicz on Turlock’s first possession of the game led to an early Downey touchdown, but the Bulldogs answered back quickly with a score of their own thanks to a 17-yard run from Lucas Curtis.
Another Bulldog fumble allowed the Knights to get the ball back and score again near the end of the first quarter, putting Turlock behind 14-7, but in the second half an 11-yard touchdown carry from Rios Rogers tied the game once more.
“It’s hard for teams to cover all of us. When they try and key in on one player, that just opens up another one of our threats,” Kosakiewicz said. “Despite the fumbles, despite the turnovers that we had, we really did march up and down the ball all over them on offense. We’ve got six guys on the field that can all get the job done so that helps a lot.”
Turlock had 506 total offensive yards on the night, while Downey had 296.
In the second half, the Knights jumped ahead 17-14 thanks to a 26-yard field goal, but Kosakiewicz capped a four-play drive on the Bulldogs’ ensuing possession to give Turlock a 21-17 lead.
Kosakiewicz rushed for 83 yards during the game and completed 140 passing yards.
With just a four-point lead in the third quarter, Bulldog linebacker Jayden Jackson came up big on defense during the Knights’ next possession, intercepting a pass that deflected off the helmet of another player and running it back into the endzone. The pick six put Turlock ahead 27-17 after a failed two-point conversion.
“I tip my hat off to (Jayden). That was huge and he’s been itching for one,” Kosakiewicz said. “That was the perfect timing for that. We needed that and it was a big confidence booster.”
The Bulldogs didn’t look back, with kicker Christian Gardner completing a 38-yard field goal attempt to increase Turlock’s lead 30-17. Downey responded with another touchdown, bringing the score to 30-24 with less than seven minutes left in the game.
Another Bulldog fumble put the ball back in the Knights’ hands as time wound down in the fourth, but as Downey went for the game-tying touchdown after several penalties went in their favor, Bulldog Garret Fountain crushed their hopes for a win with a game-ending interception.
“We were some ugly dogs tonight, but you know what I like about it? The nasty boys showed up,” Turlock head coach James Peterson said. “That’s my defense. Those nasty boys showed up at the end of the game and they took it away not once, they took it away twice. Hats off to my defense tonight. They saved our guts.”
The Bulldogs are now 3-3 overall and 1-0 in CCAL play. Next week, they’ll take on Modesto High School on the road starting at 7 p.m.