A decades-old rivalry was brought back to life Friday night as the Turlock High and Modesto High varsity football teams faced off in a league match for the first time since 2003, but it was the Bulldogs who walked away with bragging rights after defeating the Panthers 38-13.
“I thought we came out and did exactly what we needed to do — make a statement in this game,” Turlock head coach James Peterson said. “Everybody that knows, knows this is the game to win. When you play Modesto, it may not be Thanksgiving like it used to be, but it’s still just as special.”
Both Turlock and Modesto were charter members of the California Central Conference back in 1957 and played against each other until the 2003 season, when the following year it was announced that Modesto would join other schools in its city to form the Modesto Metro Conference. With this season’s Sac-Joaquin Section realignment, the former rivals are back to meeting each other on the gridiron as part of the Central California Athletic League.
“I think they’re getting used to it,” Peterson said of his team and the rivalry. “But I know the old Turlock guys, they are very happy tonight to see this.”
The Bulldogs held nothing back in their offensive onslaught of the Panthers, collecting 459 total offensive yards on the night compared to Modesto’s 243. It was junior quarterback Brock Paslay who started the game, stepping in for senior quarterback and typical starter Jonah Kosakiewicz, and went on to throw for 138 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Bulldogs did all the scoring in the first quarter thanks to two touchdowns from senior Lucas Curtis — a 21-yard rush into the endzone on during Turlock’s first possession, and a 30-yard reception from Paslay. Curtis would go on to score again in the second quarter thanks to another five-yard reception, but going into halftime the score was 24-13 thanks to two Panther touchdowns in the second quarter as well.
Curtis would end the night with one more touchdown in the fourth quarter — a six-yard carry — for a total of 35 receiving yards and eight carries for 65 rushing yards.
Kosakiewicz made his way back into the quarterback position near the end of the third quarter, but not before Paslay connected with him for 40 receiving yards at wide receiver. From the quarterback position, he threw for 21 yards and had 64 rushing yards, with a 12-yard touchdown capping off his first drive back in the game.
The Bulldog defense impressed as well, with Tamirr Bullock forcing a safety in the second quarter and stripped the ball from the Panthers quarterback during their next possession to force a fumble. Christian Cruz also had an interception in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs are now 4-3 overall and 2-0 in CCAL play. Next week, they will play Enochs High School at 7 p.m. at Joe Debely Stadium.