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Turlock crushes Modesto in 125th meeting
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Turlock’s Jeremiah Bertalotto finds an opening and scores his second touchdown of the homecoming game against Modesto (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The Turlock Bulldogs stayed perfect in the Central California Athletic League this season after defeating the Modesto Panthers by a 49-6 score in their 125th all-time meeting on Friday night at Joe Debely Stadium.

They improved to 4-0 in league competition and 4-5 overall in 2023, while having extended their lead in the all-time series against the Panthers to 81-40-4.

The Bulldogs received another multi-touchdown game from senior running back Tarell Johnson, who scored the game’s first points with a 3-yard rush in the first quarter and a 6-yard run in the second quarter. It was Johnson’s third multi-touchdown game of the year and his second consecutive. He extended his team-lead in total touchdowns to eight.

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Kristian Guerrero denies his opponent at the line during the homecoming game against Modesto. The Bulldogs won 49-6 (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Fellow senior Jeremiah Bertalotto maintained a scoring streak of his own. With a pair of rushing touchdowns in the third quarter, a 45-yarder and a 24-yarder, Bertalotto scored for his fourth straight game and earned his second game with multiple scores. His season total is now six.

Turlock quarterback Vincent Gonzales also had multiple touchdowns. His first was a 16-yard pass to Elias Espinoza while the second was a 54-yard strike to Hunter Kincaid.

While the offense was efficient, Turlock’s defense was once again a strong point. Senior cornerback Junior Silva snagged the first of two interceptions thrown by Modesto quarterback David Robinson. It was Silva’s fourth interception of the year — the most in all of the CCAL.

Junior defensive back Jeremiah Stine had the second interception. He ran it back 56-yards to the house.

Despite forcing multiple turnovers and holding the Panthers to just six points — a 47-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Phillip Gonder on a busted coverage — Silva still believes that the Bulldogs have yet to reach their full potential, admitting that they made multiple mistakes on the night.

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Xavion "Chunky" Mason gains yards for the Bulldogs during the game against Modesto Friday evening (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Turlock head coach James Peterson shared similar sentiments.

“I want us to keep playing hard, tough football, but I’d like us to be a bit more sound,” he said. “There are some calls where we just keep blowing coverages, and I’m confused thinking, ‘Why are we still doing that?’ We just need to tighten it up and be better at that.”

Nevertheless, he expressed the utmost confidence that his team can make the necessary adjustments to finish the regular season strong and make a deep playoff run.

“We will get right,” Peterson said. “We’re going to keep working, keep fighting for perfection. That’s our deal. We want to play defense perfect, special teams perfect and we want to be offensively sound. We’ll get there.”

The Bulldogs will close out the regular season against another struggling team in the Enochs Eagles next Friday night in Modesto. The Eagles, who are on a three-game losing streak, are 3-6 overall and 1-3 in the CCAL.