The Turlock High varsity football team, fresh off a 27-21 upset victory over Clovis West last week, was looking to start a winning streak heading into week five action. But things didn’t end well on Friday for the Bulldogs, who lost to Modesto High, 33-28, at Downey High's field.
Two critical drops from Turlock’s Danny Velasquez in the final drive of the game cost the Bulldogs their opportunity to potentially score and come away with a win and instead the ‘Dogs dropped to a 2-2 record heading into next week’s matchup against Tracy High.
“I thought we could come back, especially after coming back and beating Clovis West,” said senior Jacob Mabie. “I think it showed our team could come back, but obviously, we couldn’t pull it together tonight and dropped some valuable balls that we needed to catch and that is what it came down to.”
Turlock jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter after Andrew Lopez gutted the Panthers defense with a 33 and 20 yard touchdown run with about six minutes left.
Modesto buckled down and the offense, which was led by their quarterback Nathan Phillips, was able to step up for the remainder of the game and caused major trouble for the Bulldogs defense.
“We need to capitalize on our opportunities early. We can’t wait till the final minutes of these games to make our statement, to speak; we need to make that statement early,” Turlock head coach James Peterson said.
Phillips of Modesto went on a 26 yard touchdown run on a broken down play that seemed to be over in a dog pile but after the referees blew the whistle the shifty quarterback just broke out somehow and found his way to the end zone and the officials did not call him down.
This was just the start of many questionable calls made by the officiating crew, which only penalized Modesto once for the entire game.
Turlock was penalized about eight times for the game, with each penalty coming at a costly time during the game, but the home field advantage was obvious.
Unfortunately for the ‘Dogs, they had a tough time trying to stop Phillips from sideline to sideline after questionable holding calls were never made.
“Penalties were critical; we didn’t turn the ball over but penalties hurt us and we didn’t finish some of our drives as well,” Peterson said. “[It's] something we just need to get better at when we go back to practice and I think these guys are going to respond well after this.”
Modesto scored 19 unanswered points to take a 19-14 lead late in the second quarter, but Turlock’s Mabie scored on a 32-yard touchdown grab with under two minutes left in the half to go up 21-19.
“We played hard but not hard enough. We need to come together as a team in the first half,” said Mabie. “We lost as a team in the second half, but in the first half we played a bit selfish and we need to play together.”
In the second drive of the third quarter, Modesto marched down the field and Phillips’ eight-yard run put the Panthers up 25-21 after Turlock blocked their second extra point.
In the fourth, Phillips ran the ball for nine yards and added Modesto’s final score to go up 33-21 with just over six minutes left.
Turlock retaliated with a two minute drive as it ended with a Bubba Moreno touchdown pass to Jeffery Hines for 10 yards with less than four minutes left in the game.
The Bulldogs stopped Modesto and forced a three and out in the next drive, giving the offense one final opportunity at a possible comeback.
Turlock drove the ball from their own 24 yard line to Modesto’s 32, but after two consecutive drops from Velasquez on a third and fourth down, the Bulldogs failed to finish atop this time around, handing Modesto a perfect 4-0 start.
“The feeling of a loss and the feeling of defeat, playing to the opponent's level, we cannot do that,” said Mabie. “We can’t do that and need to play to our potential, to our full potential.”
Mabie finished the game with three catches for 89 yards and added a touchdown.
Andrew Lopez had 12 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Turlock will host Tracy next week with the game set for 7 p.m. Friday.
“We've got to play better if we expect to win games. We heard a lot about Tracy,” Peterson added. “I know they are always good and just need to get on the books.”