The Turlock High varsity football team suffered its first league loss in six years Friday when they fell to Downey High, 38-14.
The streak of undefeated league play dated back to Turlock’s days in the Central California Conference where their last loss came against Merced High on Oct. 30, 2015. The Bulldogs were the undefeated CCC champions in 2016 and 2017, and then went on to claim three more undefeated league titles after the 2018 league merger created the Central California Conference.
Though Turlock head coach James Peterson said the loss was tough, the streak represents a Bulldog program featuring quality coaches and athletes throughout the years.
“All you can do now is get back after it, get back to work and start a new streak,” Peterson said. “But we’re proud of that record. Obviously we’d rather have it continue, but we didn’t expect the season to go like this.”
The Bulldogs have faced their fair share of adversity this year, with injuries to star players like quarterback Cole Gilbert and linebacker Ashton Baucom, players missing games due to COVID quarantines and even wildfire smoke forcing games to be postponed. Against Downey, Baucom was ineligible to play due to a Harvest Bowl ejection the week prior.
“It’s been tough from the get-go,” Peterson said. “It’s a life lesson. Things don't always just go your way, and how you respond and how you show up on the Monday after tells a lot about your character.”
The Bulldogs kept it a close game in the first two quarters on Friday night, entering halftime trailing 17-14 after two touchdown passes from Gilbert. The first was a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Marcos Rodriguez, and he later found wide receiver Logan Hart with a 68-yard pass.
That was all the scoring Turlock could muster, however, as the Knights contained the Bulldog running game and went on to score 21 points in the fourth quarter after a scoreless third.
Gilbert ended the night 13-24 passing with 180 passing yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Downey held Turlock’s standout running back JT Foreman to just 2.6 yards per carry and 50 yards on the night.
“We were relying on the big play rather than being able to command the line of scrimmage. They took that away from us,” Peterson said. “They brought pressure and attacked our run, and they had some pretty good cover players who did their job.”
Turlock is now 1-1 in CCAL play and 2-5 overall. This Friday, they’ll play against Modesto High at 7 p.m. from Joe Debely Stadium.
After falling to Mariposa High 36-0 on Friday, Denair High is now 0-5 overall and 0-3 in Southern League play. They play Delhi at home at 7:15 p.m. this Friday.
Hilmar High (1-2 TVL, 5-2 overall) is coming off a much-needed bye week after suffering several injuries in recent games. They’ll take on Hughson High at 7 p.m. in Hilmar this Friday, and you can catch all the action on next week’s episode of The Blitz.