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Turlock football slips to Oakdale in opener
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Albino Orozco jumps onto Oakdale runner Marcus Northcutt for a Turlock tackle on Friday. - photo by IKE DODSON / The Journal

Sean Downs cut against the momentum of the defense, breaking hard into the middle of the field before a quick dash to the end zone and a game-tying score.

The thrilling play from Turlock High’s junior play-caller evened Friday’s football contest against host Oakdale at 7-7 with just over six minutes to play in the first half, but it was ultimately Turlock’s last trip to pay dirt.

The Mustangs would go on to convert a score with only 28 seconds remaining in the quarter, and rode the momentum to dominating defense in the final two periods and a 21-7 victory over Turlock.

The Bulldogs were held to just 113 total yards of offense, most accumulating on the team’s nine-play, 80-yard jaunt through a tough Oakdale defense in the second quarter. Brandon Esquivel started the drive with a dazzling 24-yard carry, and Turlock’s no-huddle offense kept the Mustangs off balance as runs from Downs, Austin Kelting and DeShawn Holcombe churned up yardage.

Oakdale fired back six minutes later on a two-yard touchdown pass from Spencer Thomas to Josh Watts. The Mustangs had scored the first points of the game on their third possession, when Watts bullied in from seven yards out.

Oakdale would gain some breathing room with a five yard rushing score from Marcus Northcutt in the third quarter, but the Mustangs, a traditional powerhouse in the running game, were held to just 160 rushing yards on 51 attempts. Thomas converted six of 13 passes for 74 yards, often targeting the hulking form of Austin Jones (four catches, 66 yards). Downs was 2 of 6 for 12 yards, but also ran 15 times for 47 yards. Esquivel rolled to 43 of the Bulldogs’ 101 rushing yards (33 carries).

Turlock (0-1) hosts Sonora on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.