The Turlock High Bulldogs (1-1) dropped a tough road game to the Oakdale Mustangs (2-0) 30-29 at “The Corral” on Friday.
Key turnovers and poor special teams play ultimately led to the defeat, however the Bulldogs played a fierce game only to fall short in the final minutes of the contest.
After a scoreless first quarter the Bulldogs drew first blood with under a minute expired in the second quarter thanks to a 2-yard TD run by running back Danny Velasquez. The ensuing kickoff was returned for a Mustangs touchdown to tie the game 7-7.
With 5:16 left in the first half Oakdale, added a field goal, but the Bulldogs responded with a 9-play, 82-yard drive capped off with a touchdown pass from quarterback Bubba Moreno to receiver Allen “Bear” Padilla to make it 14-10.
In the third quarter the Bulldogs took another bite out of the Mustangs thanks to an outstanding 18-yard TD pass from Moreno to receiver Jacob Mabie to make the score 21-10 with under 4 minutes in the third quarter.
The Mustangs quickly answered back after a long kickoff return to midfield and a 39-yard TD run with a two-point conversion to keep the contest in doubt at 21-18.
Entering the final quarter the Bulldogs loosened their collar for some breathing room thanks to a spectacular 58-yard TD run by running back Drew Lopez who sprinted up the right hash for the score followed by a two-point conversion pass from Moreno to Velasquez, to give the Bulldogs a 29-18 lead.
The touchdown almost didn’t happen, but on a fourth down and one to go, a gutsy call by Turlock Head Coach James Peterson allowed Moreno to plunge ahead 5 yards for a first down at the Bulldogs own 34-yard line.
Unfortunately the Bulldogs never scored again in the contest. With under six minutes left the Mustangs got back into the game on a 28-yard TD score. However, they failed to convert a two-point conversion try and the Bulldogs still led 29-24.
Then the Bulldogs lost their bite, and more importantly possession of the ball, when they fumbled it away on the ensuing kickoff.
The Bulldogs chance to put the game away had been missed, but the defense stifled a Mustang drive deep into Turlock territory with just under 4 minutes left.
After a punt the game was again in the offense’s hands to put away, but they failed to respond and were forced to punt with 2:12 left.
Oakdale took the lead 30-29 with 54 seconds left on a one-yard TD run following a 58-yard drive.
Again, the game remained in doubt after the Mustangs failed to convert a two-point try and left the door open for the Bulldogs to win the game with a field goal, and they almost did.
Starting from their own 36-yard line the Bulldogs drove down to the Oakdale 39 with 30 ticks on the clock but a chop block penalty against them sealed their fate in the close, hard fought contest.
Peterson complemented his team’s toughness throughout the game, but noted the numerous mistakes at critical times.
“We have to play a complete game, offense, defense and special teams,” he said. “This game is on me, we are going to get that stuff fixed.”
Despite the tough loss Peterson says his mind is already focused on the Bulldogs next opponent, Clovis West (2-0), who will come to Turlock for the Bulldogs home-opener.