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Bulldogs lose starting QB to injury
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Sean Downs, the tough and relentless Turlock High sophomore who quarterbacked the Bulldogs to a playoff berth, is out for the season.

He fractured his collarbone during last week’s 27-24 win over Golden Valley High at Veterans Stadium in Merced. He is unable to play for four weeks.

The injury happened in the final 2 minutes of the Central California Conference game, when he sprinted toward the sideline and tried to get out of bounds. But a Golden Valley defender gave Downs an extra push, well out of play and beyond the measuring chain. He nearly spilled toward the track of the stadium.

But his run set up his 1-yard TD. After a Golden Valley penalty on the extra-point attempt, the Bulldogs decided to have Downs march in for a two-point conversion to make it 27-24.

It turned out Downs, who rushed 15 yards for 124 yards and one TD to go along with 6-for-15 passing for 115 yards with one TD and an interception, was more hurt than he made it seem.

“I feel terrible for Sean that he will not be able to finish the season after such a great start,” Peterson said. “However, these Bulldogs are talented, well-coached and they have no lack of toughness. I know that our team will overcome this challenge and will be ready to play Friday night” against Atwater High (4-4 overall) at Debely Stadium.

Downs will visit his doctor in four weeks and Peterson said his quarterback could return to action if the Bulldogs (2-1 CCC) are still playing by then. They’re trying to better their position in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs with two games left in the regular season.

Running back Brandon Esquivel, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior, will be the replacement quarterback. Peterson plans to move up a junior varsity running back to fill in for Esquivel in the backfield.

Downs’ sudden exit comes after an impressive, grueling season. High expectations were set even before he threw his first pass or ran the ball after he was named the starter to replace Kevin Kramer, a big reason why the Bulldogs became an 8-3 playoff team in 2010 after a 0-10 season.

This season, Downs completed 31 of 91 passes for 534 yards and six touchdowns with six interceptions. But he did most of his damage on the ground, rushing 86 times for 534 yards and nine TDs.

Peterson holds hope for Downs and his two remaining seasons and expects his Bulldogs to play well without their starting QB. After the Atwater game, Turlock faces Pitman High (7-1, 2-1 CCC) next week in the annual Harvest Bowl.

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.