Turlock High battled till the end on Friday night, but finished its preseason league play with a 41-43 home loss to Tracy.
Andrew Lopez of Turlock ran for a 57-yard touchdown with under five minutes left to cut the deficit to two points. Then a failed two-point conversion in the closing minutes of the game proved costly once more for the ‘Dogs who dropped their second consecutive contest of the season.
“This team has potential to do great things, but little mistakes keep cutting it short,” said Lopez.
In all three losses this season, Turlock has lost by only a combined eight points and now hold a 2-3 overall record heading into their bye week.
“I thought we would have the team to handle this type of schedule,” Peterson said. “I saw other teams from our league do it and play well during league play so I thought we had the ability to compete against these teams and make the postseason and we're sitting in an okay spot.”
Turlock played catch-up from the start after Tracy took an early 14-0 lead, scoring in their first two possessions.
Two three-and-outs in their first two drives were followed by the Bulldogs' first forced turnover when Mustafa Noel-Johnson knocked the ball from quarterback Michael Brown and recovered it.
Turlock’s Andy Jennings scored on the ensuing drive with a three-yard burst and the lead was cut to 14-7.
Tracy scored two unanswered touchdowns and a field goal before the first half ended, but Turlock retaliated with two touchdowns of their own after Jeffery Hines scored on a 72-yard touchdown grab and the first half ended with a Bubba Moreno five-yard run for a score to make it 22-30.
“Our offense put points up on the scoreboard when we needed them to, and we just couldn’t get over the hump just yet,” Peterson said. “We’re getting closer, but the other teams are getting closer as well.”
Tracy accumulated 320 total yards in the first half and kept it steady in the second half.
“We need to focus on the little things when its third and long and our defense needs to make big stops and the penalties; we need to work on that and moving forward as well,” said Lopez.
Tracy played consistent and tough till the final seconds of the game, especially after holding Turlock from scoring any points when the Bulldogs forced back-to-back turnovers on Tracy’s side of the field.
“I was surprised on how physical Tracy was at the defensive back position and also at their receiving corp. They are a very well coached football team and that was a good game,” Peterson said. “Obviously, we want to win but they are an outstanding football team and earned the victory.”
A pick-six from Tracy’s Jacob Alvarado in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter made the score 43-28 and a longshot for Turlock to rally — but the Bulldogs did not give up.
On a 10-play drive, Turlock cut the deficit to eight when Jennings scored with just over seven minutes left and the score read 35-43.
Turlock held Tracy to a three and out in the next drive and set themselves up for a second chance at a possible comeback.
Lopez, who tallied 228 yards on the ground for the game, scored on the second play of the drive.
“I think we fought hard in the fourth but it’s a tough loss, we need to come back and work hard and be focused on next week,” Lopez said. “I have to thank my lineman for the game, they all did a great job there and made great blocks for me and it was just a helluva game for our line.”
The two-point conversion was called back after an offensive penalty and the Bulldogs were pushed 10 yards back and the Tracy defense held their own for the finisher.
“I really feel we have the team that could be very successful in the CCC, especially if we can take care of the little things,” said Peterson.
Turlock will have a bye week coming up before traveling to Merced to take on Golden Valley for their Central California Conference league opener at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10.