The Turlock Bulldogs (6-1, 1-1 CCC) erased the memory of last week’s gut wrenching last-second loss to Buhach Colony (7-0, 2-0 CCC) to earn their first Central California Conference victory in a 40-35 comeback road win over the Merced Bears (3-4, 1-1 CCC).
The Bears were first on the scoreboard with a 78-yard touchdown run from Merced senior quarterback Rudy Monteon, but Turlock drove right back down the field to score on a 3-yard run from Bulldog senior quarterback Kevin Kramer. Kramer kicked the extra point – a new duty for the wunderkind this week, following a game-losing missed extra point last week – to tie the game 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The second played out much like the first, with Monteon scoring on a 2-yard TD run and Kramer responding with a 3-yard TD run. The Bears would score again before the half on a 48-yard Monteon pass, giving Merced a 21-14 lead heading into the break.
Turlock received the kickoff to open the second half, and shortly thereafter Kramer connected with senior runningback Ricky Fuentes for a 22-yard touchdown to tie the game. The Bears regained the lead with a 3-yard touchdown run from senior runningback Eric Deanda, but the Bulldogs clawed back to a 28-28 tie on a 50-yard pass from Kramer to Fuentes.
The Bulldogs took their first lead of the game when Turlock recovered a Merced fumble and Kramer hit senior wide receiver Connor Pearson for a 14-yard strike. The snap on the extra point was muffed, and the scoreboard read Turlock 34, Merced 28 after three quarters of play.
Turlock scored again on a 55-yard Fuentes run and went for two but failed, setting the score at 40-28. With 2:42 left in the game the Bears scored a touchdown to bring the score to 40-35, but the Bulldogs recovered the ensuing onside kick to end the game.
Kramer finished 10 for 13 and 189 yards and three touchdowns passing, had 20 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns rushing, and connected for three extra points. Fuentes had 11 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown.
Turlock will return to the friendly confines of Joe Debely Stadium next Friday, where they will face the Golden Valley Cougars (5-2, 1-1 CCC) in an important CCC matchup.
Coyotes come back to win
The Denair Coyotes (4-3, 3-1 SL) shocked the Mariposa Grizzlies (5-2, 3-1 SL) to earn a comeback 37-33 Southern League victory in Mariposa Friday night.
Trailing 17-27 at the half, the Coyotes defense tightened up to allow only six Grizzlies points in the second half, while the Denair offense tallied 20 points of their own to take the lead at the very end of the game. The outstanding defensive performance was anchored by two interceptions from junior defensive back James Behrens and two late fumble recoveries, one by senior defensive back Colin Sosa and one by senior defensive lineman Vincent Wellington.
Senior runningback Jacob Wagner scored the first Coyote touchdown, followed by senior runningback Dylan Souza who finished atop the stat sheet with 85 yards rushing. Denair junior quarterback Jim Atkinson ran the pass-heavy offense to a tee, finishing 14 for 23 and 285 yards passing and a touchdown to senior wide receiver Trevor Werner. Werner had a late touchdown pass himself, to senior runningback Jose Galvan.
The win places the Coyotes in a three-way tie with Mariposa and Waterford for second place in the Southern League, with Le Grand remaining the only unbeaten team in Southern League play.
Denair will next face Southern League rival Gustine (1-6, 1-3 SL) at home on Friday.
Hilmar wallops Bruins
The Hilmar Yellowjackets (5-3, 3-1 TVL) bounced back from a tough loss to Modesto Christian last week to trounce the Riverbank Bruins (0-8, 0-4 TVL) 51-0 on Friday.
Yellowjackets up and down the roster got in on the scoring, with junior runningback Zach Giuliano, senior tightend Trent Goiburn, senior runningback Nate Azevedo, sophomore runningback Victor Texiera, junior runningback Jeremy Nickelsen, junior runningback Steve Soares, and junior wide receiver Tyler Silva all notching touchdowns. Junior kicker Kurtis Bettencourt was good on all of his extra point attempts.
The defense got in on the scoring too when Goiburn put two more on the board with a safety.
The Yellowjackets will face another tough TVL test in Orestimba (5-3, 3-1 TVL) at home on Friday.
Eagles lose late to Ripon Christian
The Turlock Christian Eagles (2-5, 1-3 SL) got out to an early lead Friday night, but lost a Southern League matchup against the Ripon Christian Knights (1-6, 1-3 SL) 39-13 when bit by late injuries.
The Eagles were first on the scoreboard with a 22-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Chase Gonzalez to senior wide receiver Matt Truax. The Knights drove downfield to tie the game, but TC led another touchdown drive capped by a 1-yard run from senior runningback James Riley. The extra point was blocked.
Ripon Christian kicked a field goal before the half, sending players into their locker rooms with the Eagles leading 13-10.
“We played a great first half and then in the second half all the wheels came off,” said TC coach Rusty Lyon.
Three Eagles starters came out for extended periods late in the game due to injury, allowing the Knights to pull ahead. The Knights would score four more touchdowns – one on an interception return – and two field goals while the Eagles would not score again.
The Eagles will go on the road next Friday to face Le Grand (5-2, 4-0 SL) as they continue Southern League play.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.