The Harvest Bowl may have taken place in October instead of November on Friday night, but one thing remained the same: the Turlock High varsity football team defeated Pitman High 35-0 en route to their eighth-straight victory over their crosstown rivals.
The Bulldogs (2-4 overall, 1-0 CCAL) and Pride (1-4 overall, 0-1 CCAL) kicked off Central California Athletic League play against each other this week with the 18th annual Harvest Bowl — a rivalry game which brings the two adversaries together during what is typically the last league game of the season. This year, however, it was the first.
“I’m always aware of this game, you know, it’s a little different than other games. The emotions are really running high. These guys know each other and played youth football together in this town, and some of them are friends to this day,” Turlock head coach James Peterson said of the longstanding rivalry. “I thought Pitman did a great job…Our goal is to win another league championship and the way we’re going to do that is by winning one game at a time.”
Both defenses came onto the gridiron with victory — and maybe some jitters — on their mind, resulting in a scoreless first quarter that featured nine penalties. By the start of the second quarter, however, the Bulldog offense came to life with a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cole Gilbert to wide receiver Logan Hart.
Turlock was able to score on back-to-back plays and take an early 15-0 thanks to a two-point conversion on the score before and a strip sack by linebacker Ashton Baucom, who was able to get Pride quarterback Drew Walker and the ball on the ground to be recovered by his teammate Martin Bertao in the end zone.
Despite falling behind by two scores in the second quarter, Pride head coach Eric Reza was proud of Pitman’s effort in the first. It was his first Harvest Bowl as the Pride’s varsity head coach.
“The intensity we had staring the game was really good. We came out like gangbusters, they came out like gangbusters,” Reza said. “We showed what we have, but I think we ran out of gas a little bit. They’re a good team.”
With Gilbert still on the mend from a previous knee injury, Turlock’s Peter Mello also took snaps from under center in the game and the Bulldog offense utilized its wide range of weapons when it came to scoring.
Running backs JT Foreman and Morgan Perrien both scored rushing touchdowns in the third quarter to put the Bulldogs up 28-0, and an interception by defensive back DJ Sizemore put the ball back in Turlock’s hands and allowed Mello to score an 18-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth.
Foreman led the way for Turlock, finishing the night with 106 all-purpose yards on 20 carries and two receptions.
“The coaches thought that everyone should eat,” Foreman said of the various scorers on the night. “This game runs every deep in our community and it makes everyone united.”
For Pitman, running back Joey Stout was featured in a majority of plays and tallied a total of 67 all-purpose yards on 12 carries and four receptions.
In total, the Bulldogs had 333 offensive yards on the night while the Pride had 101.
“We never give up and we play until the end,” Reza said. “These kids have a lot of pride.”
The Bulldogs have now won eight straight Harvest Bowls and now lead the series 10-8. Since 2018, Turlock has outscored Pitman 158-14 in the rivalry game. With one of the most exciting games behind them, Peterson said his team is now focused on a fourth consecutive CCAL title.
“We're the defending league title holder and we want to make sure we continue to do that,” Peterson said. “We’re just going to try and stay focused one game at a time, and go get a league title.”
Next week, Pitman will play Enochs at home in Turlock while Turlock High will travel to Modesto to take on Downey. Both games start at 7 p.m. Friday.