The No. 10 seeded Turlock High Bulldogs (6-5) were knocked out of the Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs last night after a hard-fought 21-19 loss to the No. 7 seeded Tracy High Bulldogs (8-3) at Wayne Schneider Stadium in Tracy.
Turlock’s fate was doomed with five turnovers on three fumbles and two interceptions, but they scratched and clawed to keep the game close.
“That’s football 101, you can’t win if you turn the ball over five times in a game,” said Turlock Head Coach James Peterson.
Early on, Turlock had a 7-0 lead after a 34-yard rushing touchdown from quarterback Bubba Moreno. But on their next four offensive possessions, Turlock gave the ball away on three straight fumbles and an interception, helping give a 14-7 Tracy lead at halftime.
With just under eight minutes left in the third quarter, Tracy took a 21-7 lead after a 6-yard rushing touchdown.
On Turlock’s ensuing possession, they again turned the ball over on an interception. On four of the five Turlock turnovers, the offense was on the Tracy side of the field and three times deep into Tracy territory.
But then the Bulldogs returned to form when Moreno spun out of a sack and connected with running back Danny Velasquez on a 40-yard TD pass with 8:45 left in the game. But another mistake ultimately doomed Turlock when Moreno missed an extra-point try to make the score 21-13 Tracy.
The Turlock defense held Tracy to a punt thanks to a big sack by linebacker Mustafa Noel-Johnson and the offense got the ball at their own 26 with 4:50 left in the game.
On the third play of the drive, the Bulldogs reached down into their bowl of tricks in an attempt to tie the game. Moreno hit wide receiver Jeffery Hines about 15 yards downfield on a hook and ladder play. Hines pitched the ball to running back Andrew Lopez who took the ball down the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown.
Turlock needed a two-point conversion to tie the game but the attempt failed when a low thrown ball was ruled incomplete even though it may have appeared the receiver caught the ball.
Turlock failed on an onside kick attempt and once they got the ball, Tracy never looked back.
In many ways the game was an example of the season for Turlock, who had five losses by a combined 13 points — once earlier in the season to Tracy by two points.
Turlock proved they can play with anyone, but time and time again it was the little things that would come back and bite them. Throughout the season Turlock was a resilient team that always bounced back even in the most dire of situations.
Peterson praised his team’s efforts this season.
“These kids come from a side of town where they know struggle,” he said. “They are fighters and they never give up, they always give 100 percent and that is all we ever wanted from them and they gave us their all.”
In the game Moreno had 52 yards rushing on 5 carries with a TD and he completed five passes on 15 attempts for 132 yards with 2 TD passes and 2 interceptions. Velasquez had 34 rushing yards on 7 carries and Lopez had 44 yards rushing on 7 carries.