TURLOCK -- Pitman High running back Dominick Walker had a good feeling about Friday's night's sixth annual Harvest Bowl showdown with Turlock.
"I woke up, felt energized and I was ready to go" said Walker after rushing for 174 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns to lead the Pride to a 40-6 victory over the host Bulldogs. "It was huge. I've never beaten Turlock before in football. It's the best feeling I've ever felt."
Pitman, The Bee's fourth-ranked large-school team, improved to 3-0 in the Central California Conference and 4-2 overall heading into next week's first-place showdown with Atwater.
It was sweet revenge for Pitman, which had won the first four installments of the Harvest Bowl before getting shut out, 7-0, a year ago.
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There would be no shortage of points on this night, however, as the Pride scored 30 unanswered points to close the game.
The battle for Turlock was tightly contested in the first half.
A 39-yard Quinton Breshears field goal gave Pitman a 3-0 lead with four minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Pride extended its lead to 10-0 with six minutes left in the opening half on a 1-yard TD run by Walker and A.J. Derr's extra point.
Turlock answered two minutes later when quarterback Kevin Kramer hooked up with Justin Esquivel on a 9-yard touchdown pass. The point after attempt failed, however, and the Bulldogs were down 10-6.
It looked as though Turlock had dodged a bullet when Manuel Huesca intercepted a Hayden Baldwin pass at the Bulldogs' 1. But on the very next play, a botched handoff resulted in a fumble that Turlock running back Michael Cruz fell on in the end zone for a safety and 12-6 Pitman lead.
The Bulldogs gave the Pride another gift moments later courtesy of a pass interference penalty that set up Pitman at the Turlock 20. One play later, Baldwin connected with Derek Nidey on a 20-yard scoring completion with four seconds left in the half to send the Pride into the locker room with a 19-6 advantage.
Pitman blew the game open in the third quarter-thanks to touchdown runs by Walker covering 34 and 23 yards. Baldwin punctuated the win with a 15-yard scoring run with seven minutes remaining.
The loss dropped Turlock to 0-3 in CCC play and 0-6 overall.
"We came out and played them tough in the first half," said Cruz, who led Turlock with 92 yards rushing in 12 attempts, "but we've got to do it for four quarters and we haven't been able to do that this season."
Despite the teams being rivals, Cruz said there's a lot of respect on both sides.
"We grew up with these guys and played youth football with them," said Cruz. "It's a good rivalry, but after the game we go back to being friends."
Pitman back Markus Sanders rushed for 98 yards in 12 attempts, giving him 984 for the season.
"It's big. It's for the league title, but I think we have it in us to get it done," said Walker.
MARIPOSA 42, TURLOCK CHR 0, at Mariposa -- The Grizzlies (2-4) righted the ship in time for the Southern League opener and raced past the Eagles (4-2, 0-1). The Grizzlies capitalized on seven turnovers and took a quick lead when Frankie Pena hauled in a 76-yard TD from Jarrett Leonard, then he caught a 34-yarder in the first quarter. Leonard finished with a career-high five TD passes, hitting Pena again from 19 yards for a 28-0 lead.