Running back J.T. Foreman sounded more like former heavyweight champ George Foreman in the moments after the Bulldogs’ 57-14 victory over crosstown rival Pitman in the 19th annual Harvest Bowl on Friday at Joe Debely Stadium.
“My goal tonight was to come out and punch them in the mouth and set the tempo,” said Foreman, who rushed for 62 yards during the opening drive. “I just wanted to run angry.”
His 6-yard burst up the middle capped a nine-play, 84-yard drive. After Vincent Gonzales’ run for the two-point conversion, the Bulldogs led 8-0 with 7:10 to play in the opening quarter.
After the Pride turned the ball over on downs, Turlock took over on Pitman’s 41. Five plays later, quarterback Cole Gilbert connected with Drew Johnson on a 29-yard hook-up that made it 15-0 with Mateo Valencia’s PAT.
You got the feeling the Central California Athletic League opener would be an early TKO.
“He’s been running in a whole new gear,” said THS head coach James Peterson, who improved to 10-4 in Harvest Bowls with his ninth consecutive victory. “I think we’re developing an identity.”
The Bulldogs (3-3, 1-0 CCAL) took a 29-0 lead into the locker room at halftime — Gilbert found Joshua Weatherbee on a 25-yard scoring pass and then Gilbert called his owner number from 8 yards out — and then scored to open the third quarter when Peter Mello hauled in a 52-yard pass from Gilbert to make it 36-0.
Gilbert connected on 10 of 15 passes for 229 yards, with three TDs through the air and one on the ground.
Foreman would score his second TD of the contest, this one from 5 yards out, with 8:41 left in the third, and Logan Bankson added a 1-yard burst into the end zone that made it 50-0.
The 5-yard TD run was Foreman’s only tote of the second half. He finished the contest with 123 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Pitman’s Joey Stout took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for Pitman’s first score.
With a running clock in the fourth quarter, the Pride (1-5, 0-1) scored again when Dylan Freeman hauled in a 16-yard pass from quarterback Drew Walker, and Turlock countered with a 16-yard run from Gonzales just before time expired to produce the final margin.
“We’ve got to forget about this game,” said Pitman head coach Eric Reza. “Just have to flush it and move on. We’ve got a big game with Enochs coming up.”
About the only suspense in the second half was whether Johnson would get a blocked punt, something the Bulldogs had worked on in practice during the week.
He did, with about 9 minutes to play in the third quarter, and recovered the ball on Pitman’s 5, setting up Foreman’s second score.
“The plan was to go between their two end guys on the line,” said the 6-foot, 4-inch Johnson, who missed by inches blocking a punt earlier in the contest. “But then we figured I was fast enough to go outside. I knew it was going to happen.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs limited Pitman to 115 total yards of offense — 36 yards on the ground and 79 through the air.
“I wasn’t surprised by how physical they were,” said Stout. “I knew it would be extremely tough. They’ve always been a physical team. We just started out slow and that cost us.”
Up next for the Bulldogs is a showdown with defending league champion Downey at Joe Debely.
Turlock won the junior varsity game 41-0.