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Bertalotto’s big night leads Turlock to 10th straight Harvest Bowl win
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Jeremiah Bertalotto runs the ball in for a touchdown for the Bulldogs. Bertalotto scored a total of three touchdowns during the Harvest Bowl game against Pitman (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

For the 10th consecutive season, the Turlock Bulldogs lifted the Harvest Bowl trophy after a 58-0 dismantling of the Pitman Pride on Friday night at Joe Debely Stadium — the most lopsided victory in the history of the 20 year crosstown rivalry.

The opening kickoff set the tone for the night, as the Bulldogs recovered an onside kick. On their first play from scrimmage, running back Junior Silva ran the ball in from 40 yards out to make it 7-0 after just 13 seconds of playing time. 

Head coach James Peterson revealed that it was one of his assistant coaches who urged him to start the game with an onside kick. He wasn’t on board at first, but there was enough convincing to make him change his mind.

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Turlock's Vincent Gonzales hands the ball off to Kaeden Patterson (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

“I wanted to be more conservative to start the game, but he finally won me over, and it paid off,” Peterson said. “It really did set the game off in great fashion and the rest was history after that.”

The Bulldog defense displayed similar dominance during the Pride’s first drive of the game, forcing a three-and-out and recovering a high snap on the punt attempt on the one yard line. Tarell Johnson took care of the rest as he punched it in on the very next play to make it 14-0.

The rest of the night served as the Jeremiah Bertalotto show. The speedy senior finished with a game-high 150 receiving yards and two touchdowns off four catches. He first found his way into the end zone with a 76-yard touchdown off a screen pass from quarterback Vincent Gonzales. The duo linked up on a nearly identical screen play that went 46 yards to the house. Additionally, he returned a kickoff 40 yards for a touchdown.

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Pitman's Adam Quezada escapes a tackle during the Harvest Bowl game against Turlock Friday (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

His 190 total yards were the most by any Bulldog in a single game thus far in 2023.

“We just knew that we had to come into this game and do our thing, and that’s what we did,” said Bertalotto. 

Gaining yards after the catch is exactly the type of thing Bertalotto does best, and there was nobody more appreciative of the efforts than Gonzales.

“Man, I’ve been around this guy since we were like 10. We’ve won everything together. We just keep building off of each other. We’ve always had that chemistry with one another,” he said.

Also with plenty of praise for Bertalotto’s performance was Peterson.

“It’s just amazing to see how far he’s come. He’s just outstanding,” he said. “We need to keep getting the ball into that guy's hands in space. He’s making magic. It’s truly amazing what he does.”

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Lawson Aviles gains yards for the Pride (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Amazing was also the word used to describe the efforts of senior captain Logan Durkee. Durkee, Turlock’s defensive end and outside linebacker, complimented his five tackles on the night with a one-handed, diving touchdown grab to close out the first half and push his team’s lead to 36-0. It was the first offensive touchdown ever scored for Durkee, who had lined up at tight end much to the surprise of Pitman defenders.

Hunter Kincaid joined in on the fun by intercepting Pitman quarterback Andrew Azevedo and returning it 98 yards for the score. With just over four minutes left to play and a running clock, running back Cesar Perez ran in from two yards out to extend the lead to 58-0, the eventual final score.

Not only was it Turlock’s 10th straight victory in the series with Pitman, but it extended their lead in all-time Harvest Bowl matchups to 12-8.

“I’ll tell you what, when we first started this run, it was such a big hill to climb. It was near impossible, so to be where we’re at today is just an amazing feeling,” Peterson said referring to the fact that his coaching career began with a 1-4 record against the Pride. “I’m so proud of the kids and all the hard work they put in.”

The win also marks the seventh time in Turlock’s 10-game winning streak in the Harvest Bowl in which they won by more than two scores.

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The Bulldogs celebrate their 58-0 Harvest Bowl victory over Pitman Friday evening (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

“Honestly, I don’t think this is a rivalry anymore,” Durkee said with a shrug. “They have a lot of work to do to close the gap here. We just work harder, and that’s what it comes down to, not just against them, but all these other teams. When you have 30 to 40 guys who are willing to put in the work everyday, that’s what’s going to happen.”

The Bulldogs, who are now 2-0 in Central California Athletic League play and 2-5 overall, will look to keep the momentum going when they travel to Modesto next week to face Downey, the reigning league champions.

“Next week is for the league,” Durkee stated. “It’s as simple as that, so let’s go get it.”

“This is our league to lose. We just need to keep it ours,” added lineman Kristian Guerrero. “We can’t give it away. This is our year.”

Meanwhile, the Pride dropped to 0-2 in the CCAL and are now 1-6 overall in 2023. They will look to break their losing streak at home next week against Enochs of Modesto.