The last few minutes of Turlock High’s football game against Modesto High on Friday night was filled with many dramatic moments, enough to cause near-heart attacks for the fans who watched it from the stands of Joe Debely Stadium.
And a game like this had to have a hero.
On this night, it was Turlock junior kicker Dominic Breshears. His missed field goal just a couple minutes earlier didn’t rattle him as he nailed a 28-yard game-winner with less than 10 seconds remaining to stun the previously undefeated Modesto 24-21 in what is known as the “Little Big Game.” The thrilling moment caused the stadium to roar, while the Turlock players rejoiced on the sideline.
“I just went out there and did it,” the kicker said.
Before Breshears’ heroics, he missed a 19-yard attempt with about 2 minutes left when Turlock was up 21-14. Modesto immediately took advantage on the ensuing drive, as quarterback Clayton Miller (10-for-13 for 232 yards) threw his second 80-yard TD of the night after finding Geoff Washington on the right sideline to tie the game.
The Bulldogs started at their own 19 with 1:51 left. With Kevin Kramer in charge, the Bulldogs marched to Modesto’s 11 after the senior quarterback found Bradli Badali for a 29-yard pass that helped drive the ball forward. And that was when Breshears walked onto center stage and booted the game-winner.
“It’s a no-brainer call,” Turlock coach James Peterson said. “I just believe in that kid. I really do. I see what he does all day in practice. He missed the first one; it went a little right. I had to go with it again.”
With that, the Bulldogs have now captured 23 of the last 29 games in one of the oldest rivalries in California — which started in 1921. But Peterson noted that Friday’s win was simply another win before his team’s final nonleague game at Franklin High of Stockton in two weeks, though he also noted the importance of the Modesto-Turlock matchup.
“It’s a big game. There are people here and a lot of tradition. The game means a lot to a lot of people,” he added. In fact, the Bulldogs selected Paul Larson, a Turlock High graduate who was chosen as the state’s best player by CalHiSports in 1949, as the Bulldogs’ honorary captain to help motivate this year’s Turlock players.
The Panthers, considered the top large-school program in the Stanislaus District, struck first by eating up nearly half of the first quarter’s clock. They ended the 10-play drive with a 24-yard TD run by Arquel Rogers, who had a rather quiet night. He was the one who finished with four touchdowns in the first-ever game at Debely Stadium on Aug. 27 against Pitman High.
But with less than 4 minutes left in the first half, Kramer found Ricky Fuentes for a 59-yard TD pass to tie it at 7-7. Things looked promising for the Bulldogs until Kramer threw an illegal-forward pass into the hands of Modesto’s James Waters.
On the Panthers’ ensuing play, Waters caught an 80-yard TD from Miller, his quarterback.
“It was a combination of poor decision and bad judgment,” Kramer said about his interception that led to a 14-7 Panthers first-half lead.
But Kramer, who had 154 rushing yards, bounced back with two running TDs of 6 and 9 yards in the second half before engineering two late-game drives, including the one that led to the game-winning kick by Breshears.
“It means a lot (to come away with the win) right after not coming through with the field goal from the beginning,” Breshears said. “Coming out winning the game for them, it felt good. We worked hard all summer, so it felt good to get that fourth win.”
For the Bulldogs, it was a nice way to end a dramatic game.
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