The Turlock Bulldogs claimed their first league victory with several dramatic plays that put them over Buhach Colony, 21-10, Friday night.
Jordan Porter returned the opening second half kick-off for 85-yards for a score, Tyler Etharidge notched two rushing touchdowns and Dustin Grein intercepted the ball in the closing seconds of the game.
“This is league play. It's a new season so a league victory is exactly what we needed, wasn't pretty but we got the job done,” said Turlock head coach James Peterson about picking up the first Central California Conference victory of the season.
The Bulldogs continue their consecutive victories in the CCC dating back to 2015 with eight straight.
Their last CCC loss was back on Oct. 30, 2015, when they fell to Merced 34-28.
They are now 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the CCC, having won back-to-back games for the first time this season after toppling Modesto just a week ago.
“I think we can continue to improve with personnel movement and just with practice,” said Peterson. “We just have to get better at it. Right now, we are banged up, been a long stretch, but we are working on getting better.”
The first and only score of the first half for Turlock came in their opening drive that went nine plays and concluded with a three-yard plunge by Etharidge, but the Bulldogs only got six points after getting their extra point blocked.
Turlock took a 6-0 lead with 5:14 on the clock in the opening quarter and forced BC to punt after they had a lengthy drive.
Unfortunately, just two plays later, Turlock turned the ball over on the ground at their own nine-yard line.
With a first and goal, BC then followed up to score a touchdown on a one-yard keeper from quarterback Clay Abrams.
Turlock continued to try and keep the pressure up, but the quick release of Abrams became a problem, especially in the winding seconds of the first half.
Just before that, Turlock marched down the field with a seven-play drive that ended with a 38-yard field goal attempt being blocked by the BC special teams.
With just 40 seconds remaining, Abrams followed up with leading the offense down the field and into Turlock’s red zone, essentially clinching a field goal as time expired to give the Thunder a 10-6 lead heading into the half.
Down at the half, coach Peterson said some words to one of his star players in senior Jordan Porter.
“I spoke with Jordan just before the start of the second half and told him that he has fresh legs and he should take one back,” said Peterson. “He said coach, 'I got you.' He came out and did it and sometimes it works out that way in ball games.”
Porter kicked off the second half in electric fashion, running down the sideline for an 85-yard kickoff return as the sidelines and crowd erupted with loud chants.
The two-point conversion gave the 'Dogs a 14-10 lead with 11:45 in the third.
Turlock's defense, which has been stout so far after five games, forced BC to punt on the ensuing drive.
Turlock then fumbled for the second consecutive time inside their own red zone when Mark Flores coughed up the ball, giving BC another opportunity with 6:05 in the third.
The defense did their job as they pushed back the BC offense for negative nine yards in the first two plays before they fumbled on third down, giving the 'Dogs the ball back with 4:28 left in the third.
Turlock marched for a 15-play drive that ended with an end zone pick from Garret Fountain.
Both sides exchanged punts before BC finally went on a six-play drive in the closing 2:30 that ended with a fourth down play where Grein read Abrams perfectly and came down for an interception, returning it to the two-yard line where Etharidge scored up the middle just one play later to seal it.
“Grein is a big-time player, he has his eyes on the QB and saw Abrams break out and put the game away basically,” Peterson added. “They did a great job taking away our inside run game, and forced us on third and long but we are getting better.”
Turlock amassed 113 yards of total offense in the first half while BC added 124.
The next game for Turlock will be at home against El Capitan at 7 p.m. Friday.