TURLOCK -- Halfway through the second quarter, the Turlock Bulldogs had the lead over the Gregori Jaguars 14-6, but the Bulldogs were a bit lethargic.
After a quick kick from quarterback Cole Gilbert was recovered by the Jags in the endzone, middle linebacker Devon Lambert surprised everyone. He tackled Gregori’s Alton Williams back into the endzone for a safety. Those two points seemed to energize the Bulldogs. They maintained the lead through the rest of the game and won 37-13.
Turlock head coach James Petersen raved about his team’s execution of the safety.
“First of all, the punt was amazing, getting back deep and our guys covered it well. The defense to execute that play in that setting was outstanding. They just contained (Williams) and tackled him good.”
The Jaguars came out strong. Four minutes into the first quarter, Anthony Todd scored the first touchdown of the game from the 1-yard line. Jace Guzman’s extra point was blocked by Owen Miller leaving the Jags up 6-0.
With 3:51 left in the first quarter, Gilbert, from the 28-yard line, passed to Peter Mello. Mello wrenched himself free from Jaguar claws to put Turlock on the board. With Mateo Valencia’s PAT, the Bulldogs took the lead 6-7. The Bulldogs maintained their lead for the remainder of the game.
At the start of the second quarter, Turlock had possession at the 6-yard line, but Gregori was not going to make it easy for them. Isaiah Bertalotto with the carry was brought down by Anthony Todd at the 4-yard line, but a holding penalty a moment later pushed them back to the 14-yard line. Gilbert passed to Mellow and moments later attempted a quarterback-keeper touchdown but is stopped just short. While the Jags all descend on him, Gilbert got across the goal line and widens Turlock's lead to 14-6.
After Lambert’s safety, the Bulldogs scored twice more before the quarter ends with Gilbert passing to Joshua Weatherbee for one and Mello again for the next. The Bulldogs entered halftime with a commanding lead, 30-6.
The third quarter was a slog with neither team making much progress amongst the incomplete passes and sacks. With a minute and a half remaining in the third quarter and from second-and-goal, Weatherbee caught a pass from Gilbert to widen the gap 37-6.
In the fourth quarter, the Jaguars foudn their second wind and quarterback Grant Veneman connected with Ayden Powers to try to keep Gregori in the game. They closed the gap to 37-13, but the Bulldogs outlasted them for a final score of 37-13.
The Bulldogs are looking forward to the playoff bracket release on Sunday.
“The next step is just to get ready to play more football. … We think we’re going to get a home game. Hopefully the win tonight will help secure that,” said Petersen.
Samantha Schmidt is a freelance reporter whose work has been featured at FrontRowPreps.com for a few years now. Schmidt is capable of telling a story with words and her camera.