Not only was Turlock High’s game on Friday night their league opener – it was also the team’s first game back at Joe Debely Stadium after turf issues kept them away from home for the first weeks of the season, and the Bulldogs came to play, defeating Buhach Colony High 49-27.
“Traditionally we’ve struggled in our league openers, and I think tonight we just really wanted to come out and make sure we had a substantial win,” said head coach James Peterson.
Turlock didn’t waste any time when it came to scoring. After forcing a punt from Buhach, the Bulldogs took advantage of their first possession of the game as Dustin Grein completed a 65-yard run into the endzone in the first two minutes of the game, making the score 7-0. Grein then intercepted a tipped pass on the Thunder’s next possession, leading to a six-play scoring drive that resulted in a 6-yard run for another touchdown by the running back, bringing the score to 14-0 with seven minutes left in the first quarter.
“Tonight I came out focused and ready to play,” said Grein. “The past couple games I haven’t been doing that great, so I knew I needed to step my game up.”
Grein still wasn’t done after his first two touchdowns. Following a 3-yard run for a touchdown from Michael Linares to end the first quarter, Grein had another impressive run down the field – this time for 63 yards – into the end zone to make the score 28-0 just 13 seconds into the second quarter.
“Dustin Grein is a special kid,” said Peterson. “He’s the guy that’s in everything…he’s truly a key component to what we’re doing.”
The Bulldogs’ defense dominated the line of scrimmage during the first half, refusing to let the Thunder score until the very last seconds of the second quarter. Buhach’s first touchdown came as a result of a botched field goal attempt. The mishandled punt was passed into the end zone to Buhach’s Kyle Beaudry, and after a missed point after attempt, the score was 28-6 heading into halftime.
“Every aspect right now – offense, defense, special teams – is playing really well,” said Peterson.
Turlock kept up their aggressive offensive game as the second half began, with Danny Velasquez keeping the ball for a 33-yard run in the half’s first two minute to make the score 35-6. After forcing the Thunder to punt yet again on their next possession, the Bulldogs piled on the points in their ensuing drive. Mark Flores somersaulted past a defender into the end zone with just under six minutes left in the third quarter, making the score 42-6.
Buhach refused to go down without a fight, however, as Edgar Olvera of the Thunder made the score 42-13 with a 19-yard carry for a touchdown in the final four minutes of the third quarter. The Bulldog defense allowed another touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Buhach’s Nathaniel Ayala completed an 82-yard carry into the end zone to cut the Bulldog’s lead 42-20.
“I think our team did good,” said defensive tackle Juan “Mango” Lopez. “We should’ve got a goose egg, but it is what it is.”
Despite the Bulldog’s inability to hold the Thunder to zero scores, they answered back to the Thunder on the following drive. It was Flores once again who barreled into the end zone on a 3-yard carry to bring the score to 49-20. It was Turlock’s last touchdown of the night, but Buhach wasn’t finished. Following two off side penalties on the Bulldogs, Clay Abrams of Buhach carried the ball 23 yards for a touchdown to make the final score 49-27.
The Bulldogs are now 1-0 in the Central California Conference and 3-2 overall. Next week, they travel to El Capitan High School to take on the Gauchos.
“We’re back on the road which is nothing new to us, and we just got to get healthy, stay healthy and continue to play good football,” said Peterson.