For the first time in 12 meetings, the Turlock Bulldogs have defeated Pitman High in back-to-back matchups after a close game on Friday night that ended with a one possession score.
Both sides were battling for a second place berth in the Central California Conference as well as the possibility of hosting a playoff game so there was more on the line than just a crosstown rivalry.
It was a meeting between two similar style teams with stout defenses and both sides did not disappoint.
Pitman controlled the tempo of the game early on, but Turlock’s defense allowed only two points in the second half and the Bulldogs ran the clock down in the final minutes to pull off the 24-16 win.
“I am excited, but to be honest, I am more excited for the guys who fought hard tonight since we have ran out of luck at times,” said Turlock head coach James Peterson. “Our kids battled till the end, even when it looked like it would go the other way, our kids never quit. I am so proud of these kids.”
“Everything we saw tonight, we expected. Turlock is a great team, they get off well, they are big kids and just physical,” said Pitman assistant coach Chris Wolfley. “Turlock had a great plan. They knew what they wanted to do and I feel like two plays made the difference.”
Pitman was held to a punt in their opening drive but then Matt Parker intercepted Danny Velasquez’ first pass of the game on the Bulldogs first play of the game at Turlock’s 31-yard-line.
The Pride responded five plays later when Parker scored the Pride’s first touchdown after a one-yard run with 6:09 left in the first quarter.
After both sides exchanged punts, Turlock was driving down the field and then eight plays later, Velasquez was picked off for a second time from Sinue Cortes after a tipped pass.
Pitman’s Jacob Perez fumbled just two plays later as Ronald Sharlou recovered the loose ball from Pitman’s 42-yard-line setting up a two-yard touchdown run from Mark Flores to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:46 left till the half.
“This game was nice because both sides studied each other’s film tremendously, so we have to work and strengthen our strategy,” said Pitman’s Cristian Cooley. “It was a nice trademark game to see our imperfections and we get to key on it and get better as a team.”
Titus Schammel scored Pitman’s final touchdown with 1:10 left in the half and Turlock responded with a six play drive in less than one minute, setting up a 39-yard touchdown grab from Dylan Cummings to tie the game at 14-14 at the half.
“It was a battle till the end and our coach told us were an elite defense and we played like it,” said Turlock’s Chris Silva after the Bulldogs held Pitman to no touchdowns in the second half. “We knew they would come out hard, but we think of ourselves as a four-quarters team.”
Pitman’s offense was held to three possessions in the entire second half, racking up only 104 total yards of the team’s 223 for the game.
Turlock opened the second half with a 16-play drive that lasted 8:34, eventually setting up the go-ahead field goal from David Rios from 23-yards out.
With a three-point lead, Turlock’s defense held Pitman to a three-and-out and then in their next drive, the Bulldogs went down the field for another long drive that lasted 10-plays, setting up Velasquez for a 10-yard scoring run to go up by double digits to begin the fourth quarter.
Pitman drove down the field for a nine-play drive, setting themselves up at the Turlock 3 yard line before Turlock’s defense held their ground and forced a turnover on downs.
“They had a great offensive plan,” said Wolfley. “They obviously knew what we wanted to do on defense and it really came down to who was going to cough the ball up or make the tackles when they have to. We coughed it at the end, but really two plays makes the difference.”
Turlock was backed up inside their own five-yard-line but on a punt attempt on a fourth down play, the ball went out of bounds for a safety to make it 24-16 with 4:38 remaining in the game.
Pitman had a chance to redeem themselves when Ryan Yniquez rushed the ball to the corner but Turlock’s defense forced the fumble, eventually setting up the closing drive for the Bulldogs.
Brandon Booz ran the ball for 62-yards and rant the clock down to help secure back-to-back Harvest Bowl wins for the first time in history for Turlock.
“I saw that Pitman has owned us and some people might see it and assume Pitman is a better school, but I think we have a pretty good team and school here at Turlock High,” Peterson added after his team tallied 349 yards of offense for the game.
Pitman and Turlock will next compete in the Division I CIF Sac-Joaquin Section tournament against opponents yet to be named at a time yet to be determined. For more information go to cifsjs.org.
“I think we can play anybody with everything we got,” Silva added. “We have had 11-plus injuries and every guy has stepped up, I think we can play against anyone on the field. If you put your heart into it, then we can do anything together.”
The Harvest Bowl is sponsored by the Turlock Lions Club.