The Turlock High Bulldogs added a sixth game to their winning streak Friday night with a 59-12 blowout victory over the Atwater High Falcons in a game that saw both the Turlock offense and defense dominate the field.
The Falcons came into the matchup having yet to win a game this season, but the Bulldogs didn’t underestimate their opponent.
“We were confident because we knew we were a better team,” said quarterback Danny Velasquez.
Turlock was quick to score, with kicker Dallin Tilby sending a field goal through the uprights on their first possession of the game. Despite four off sides penalties called on the Bulldog defense in the first quarter, the Falcons were unable to achieve a first down. The starting defense came together in the second quarter, and only allowed nine yards in the game’s first half.
“They’re just hungry,” said head coach James Peterson. “We’ve been working all week and they came out and played strong.”
With just over eight minutes to go in the second quarter, Velasquez connected with Mustafa Johnson on an 11-yard touchdown pass for the first touchdown of the game to make the score 9-0 after a misses point after attempt. An interception from linebacker Alex Oliveira on the Falcons’ ensuing possession allowed the Bulldogs to make up for the missed point, as they successfully executed a two-point conversion after a one-yard touchdown run from Velasquez.
Velasquez used his legs and his arms in the Bulldogs’ win, rushing for 29 yards in the first half and throwing 84 passing yards.
“I try to use as many weapons as I can,” said Velasquez.
A sack by Juan “Mango” Lopez during Atwater’s possession forced the Falcons quarterback out of the game with an injury, and his replacement fumbled the snap on the next play. With the ball back in their hands, Turlock scored once again on their first play. Tyler Etharidge completed an 8-yard touchdown run with five minutes remaining in the half, bringing the score to 24-0.
Later, in the final minutes of the second quarter, Velasquez threw two touchdown passes – a 23-yard dart to Dustin Grein followed by a 32-yard toss to Jordan Porter, making the score 38-0 at the half.
The Falcons’ offensive woes continued into the second half. A botched snap on their first possession was fumbled and recovered by Turlock’s Devin Jordao. The Bulldogs’ took advantage of the turnover, as Velasquez completed a two-yard touchdown pass to Etharidge – his second of three touchdowns on the night.
“I wasn’t open at first, so I had to scramble around and that’s when I caught the pass,” said Etharidge.
With the score 45-0, The Bulldog defense forced yet another Falcons turnover when Gabriel Melton intercepted an Atwater pass. Again, Turlock didn’t wait to make their opponent pay for their mistake. Etharidge bolted 23 yards for a touchdown on the first play following the interception, giving the Bulldogs an impressive 52-0 lead with seven minutes to go in the third quarter.
With a running clock, the Falcons were able to get on the board with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, as Atwater’s Alex Garcia returned Turlock’s kick into the end zone. The Falcons attempted a two-point conversion but were unsuccessful, making the score 52-6. They scored once again in the fourth quarter after getting the ball back on a Turlock fumble, with wide receiver Andrew Hernandez taking a five-yard pass in for a touchdown with seven minutes left in the game.
Still cushioned by a four-touchdown lead, the Bulldogs added on to the score with three minutes to go thanks to a 48-yard run from Dominic Nunes, making the final score of the game 59-12.
The six-game winning streak makes the Bulldogs 6-2 overall and undefeated in the Central California Conference (4-0).
“Anytime you’re undefeated in the CCC it’s a good feeling,” said Peterson. “This is a tough league to play in and we got the best of these guys tonight. I’m proud of my team.”
Next week, the Bulldogs take on the Merced High Bears, who are also 6-2. Undefeated in league play, both Peterson and Velasquez think Turlock has what it takes to be league champions.
“We’re going to get Merced and take it one game at a time,” said Peterson. “I think everybody knows what’s at stake. We’re in position to do what we need to do and we just have to execute.”
“I know that our team is good enough to win it all,” said Velasquez. “I’ve lost two straight years in the league championship, but I hope we can get another chance this year to get it.”