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Turlock football falls flat against Eagles
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Bulldog Brandon Esquivel rushes for a touchdown during a stunning loss to Enochs High. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

In the game of football talent can only take you so far. Turlock High learned that lesson first hand on Thursday when Enochs High rolled into town and racked up 300 yards of offense in a 42-21 victory over the Bulldogs (1-2).

Turlock entered Joe Debely Stadium fresh off an impressive performance against Sonora High but the Eagles (1-2) posed a different challenge for the blue and gold and it was apparent early on that they were not prepared for it.

“We came out flat,” Turlock’s head coach James Peterson said. “It’s really a matter of concentration and maturity; every time we took two steps forward we’d take three steps back.”

The Bulldogs struggled to find their rhythm on offense as Sean Downs, Brandon Esquivel, Jordan Silva and Jevon Hogan were met early and often at the line of scrimmage by Eagles defenders. Although there were flashes on offense, Turlock mostly sputtered in the first half, turning the ball over on downs twice and punting three times in its first five possessions.

“We were able to move the ball but we didn’t finish,” Peterson said.

Turlock’s only first quarter threat was thwarted late in the second quarter when an Anthony Peters pass was intercepted in the end zone. A DaShawn Holcombe interception on Enochs’ subsequent possession seemed to give the Bulldogs a surge of momentum in the final moments of the first half but they were unable to capitalize, immediately fumbling the ball and giving it back to the Eagles defense.

While Turlock’s offense failed to produce desired results Enochs went on a scoring frenzy, finding the end zone on their first possession via a 15 yard Tomas Alvarez run and twice more in the second quarter with a five yard run from quarterback Shawn Munoz and a 65 yard catch and run from James Lee.

Enochs led 21-0 at the half.

“We’re struggling to find our identity; who we are and who’s in charge on the field,” Peterson said.

Turlock’s identity woes emerged defensively. For the second straight week Trevor Wheeland was forced to watch from the sidelines instead of plugging up the holes in the trenches. Wheeland’s absence and its effect on the Bulldog defense have also been compounded by the loss of defensive end Ryan Mabie whose season was ended before it started with a knee injury.

“When he’s out it does hurt,” Peterson said of Wheeland. “And Mabie’s leadership has been a huge loss defensively.”

Without two key defenders on the field it was hard to stop the Eagles who wasted no time returning to the score board in the third quarter, scoring on their first possession on a 12 play drive capped with a 45 yard touchdown reception.

Turlock’s offense awakened in the third quarter as Downs and Holcombe hooked up for 53 passing yards, leading to a six yard touchdown run from Esquivel. Turlock scored their second touchdown of the game two minutes later after a Enochs fumble when Peters threw a six yard strike to Anthony Andrino. The score was 14-28 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“We had to throw the ball and get after it in the second half,” Peterson said.

Turlock scored again off a Silva run but two more Enochs touchdowns put the game out of reach for a disappointed Bulldog squad.

Another Modesto Metro Conference opponent awaits the Bulldogs next Friday when Downs and co. travel to Johansen to face Modesto High. Peterson will spend the week stressing the importance of maturity as he looks to move his team forward.

“Perfect practice equals perfect play,” Peterson said.