Turlock High rode a lockdown second half defense and stellar rushing attack to get their first win of the season against Clovis West 23-10 on Friday at home. The Bulldogs were without starting quarterback Cole Gilbert who was resting a knee injury from last week as the team wants him ready for the Harvest Bowl on Oct. 1.
Senior Peter Mello got the start under center and was able to get going rushing with 103 yards. The offense was led, however, by running back JT Foreman who had 211 yards rushing and one touchdown.
“I thought he (Mello) played outstanding. We told him all week, ‘we believe in you Peter,’ we knew he could handle the ball and he did great,” head coach James Peterson said. “You could see it when he (Foreman) catches fire. He starts seeing the field and it’s like slow motion for him and I could always tell when he starts to get in that mode. The offensive line really started taking over the field and you could tell he started hitting the field hard.”
The Bulldogs were able to get the first points of the game with a 34-yard field goal with 5:16 left in the first half. After that, Turlock had trouble moving the ball as they didn’t score again during the half. Two possessions later the Eagles scored instantly with a 74-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the drive.
The Bulldogs caught a break with an interception by cornerback Kyle Parker on West Clovis’ next possession, but were unable to turn that into points. The very next drive the Eagles drove the field nine plays and scored a touchdown on a six-yard run.
Mello was trying to make something happen before halftime, but threw a pick to end the half. Peterson told the team not to panic and stick to the gameplan.
“I told them you guys are fine. Just stay the course, we made little mistakes, we just have to correct them. We just stuck to the gameplan and it really did pay off,” he said.
That message seemed to resonate with the team because they came out of the half with a nine-play touchdown drive of their own capped off by a two-yard rush by Foreman.
After the defense held the Eagles to a three and out, the offense kept the intensity with another touchdown drive with running back Morgan Perrien punching it in from three yards out with 5:02 left in the third. Turlock’s defense was able to force West Clovis to punt on their next three possessions.
The score was still 17-10 late in the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs were trying to run out the clock. Faced with a third and seven wide receiver Logan Hart broke free for a 25-yard touchdown reception from Mello. Turlock missed the extra to make it 23-10 with 2:12 left in the game.
The Eagles were driving to try to stay in the game when Hart picked the ball off with 58.7 seconds left on the clock to secure the win for the Bulldogs.
Peterson credited the team for “doing the little things right” to secure their first win of preseason.
“These guys finally got it together tonight and decided we’re not going to be the ones making these penalties and they really reduced that tonight. They were the ones doing the unsportsmanlike stuff, we were playing disciplined. I feel that was the difference in the game tonight, they played smart and intelligent,” he said.
Turlock has a bye next week and starts league play in two weeks when they face Pitman in the Harvest Bowl at 7 p.m. on Oct. 1.