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Clovis West air raid too much for Turlock in home opener
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Turlock's Vincent Gonzales looks for an open target to throw to during the game against Clovis West Friday evening (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The Golden Eagles of Clovis West High made sure that their near hour and a half drive to Turlock was well worth it, as they cruised to a 56-16 victory over the Bulldogs at Joe Debely Stadium on Friday night.

Clovis West’s first play from scrimmage set the tone for the night. Fifteen seconds into the game, they found themselves with a 7-0 lead after quarterback Tyler Patrick found Fresno State bound Jordan Pierro for a 61-yard touchdown.

The Bulldogs hung around for as long as they could, though, even momentarily grabbing the lead early in the second quarter when Turlock quarterback Vincent Gonzales connected with Isaiah Bertalotto for a 21-yard touchdown.

But the Golden Eagles slowly wore down the ‘Dogs. After the Clovis West offense drove for a field goal, their defense came up big, sacking Gonzales twice to force a punt. On the kick, Marshel Sanders, another Fresno State commit, ran it back 68 yards to the house to put his team up 17-9.

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Colten Mauksch leaps over his Clovis West opponent (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

And when it rains, it pours.

On the ensuing possession, Gonzales again found himself under heavy pressure. With one minute left in the half, one of his throws on the run was intercepted, which led to another field goal as time expired.

Less than two minutes into the second half, a fumble by receiver Andrew Johnson was returned 48 yards for a touchdown, pushing the Clovis West lead to 28-9. Two plays later, Gonzales was picked off again. On the very next sequence, Golden Eagles’ backup quarterback Tyler Franklin and wideout Landon Wright connected on a 52-yard touchdown, making it a 34-9 game.

Wright, who has committed to play at Washington State, caught another 50 yarder from Patrick following a Turlock three-and out. He completed a hat trick with five minutes left to play and a running clock with an 80-yard catch from Franklin.

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Junior Silva gains yards for the Bulldogs Friday evening during their game against Clovis West (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Turlock head coach James Peterson praised his team for refusing to quit despite the big plays through the air.

“We play the toughest schedule in the Central Valley. There’s nobody playing a tougher schedule than us as a public school. We know what we’re facing every week. Our guys just have to get better and they have to respond. They played some very, very tough receivers tonight, and I thought we battled,” he said.

“The game just got away from them. There were little mistakes here and there, and it just seemed that at times, the game got a little too big for them.”

The Bulldogs are now 0-2 on the year will try to break into the win column next Friday on the road against 2-0 Central of Fresno. The Grizzlies defeated the Bulldogs 54-41 a year ago.

“We’re ready to play football,” Peterson said. “We’ll be battle-tested, that’s for sure.”