Turlock senior running back Lucas Curtis ran through a couple of Cosumnes Oaks defenders and dragged them with him en route to an 8-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds left in the first quarter.
The heavy load was nothing compared to the weight of playing without starting quarterback Jonah Kosakiewicz and wide receiver Cameran Sherwood.
Curtis and the Bulldogs (8-3), however, were up to the challenge as they blanked the 4-7 Wolfpack 28-0 in the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs on Friday at Joe Debely Stadium.
“There weren’t a lot of differences,” Curtis said. “That’s the thing about us. We have so much depth. We know whoever got put in, they just had to do their job and we did it.”
Kosakiewicz was out with an ankle injury. Sherwood left the game early with flu-like symptoms.
Curtis did his job as he rushed for 93 yards on 14 carries and had three rushing touchdowns. He had a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle in the third quarter and broke a couple of tackles for an 18-yard score in the fourth.
“He is a strong-willed kid,” Turlock coach James Peterson said. “He doesn’t back down from anybody. He has worked hard this year to be the guy.”
Kosakiewicz was still battling an ankle injury suffered late in the Bulldogs’ win over Pitman last week and while he suited up, Peterson said he “wasn’t 100-percent” and opted to start junior Brock Paslay instead.
It wasn’t the smoothest of starts for Paslay as he was intercepted on his first pass attempt. But he bounced back and had a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Casey Carr in the second quarter.
Carr was in the game after Sherwood left in the first quarter.
It’s the next man up mentality that makes the Bulldogs’ offense so effective.
“He (Carr) plays middle linebacker for us,” Peterson said. “I don’t know where he learned to catch the ball like that. (Tonight), it wasn’t perfect, guys were making mistakes but we rallied around those guys.”
Turlock’s defense was ready as it pitched a shutout for the second straight week. The Bulldogs held the Wolfpack to 135 total yards and 78 rushing yards on 2.4 yards per carry.
“They were throwing the screen all night and our guys rallied and tackled the guy when they needed to,” Peterson said. “The defense just finished on every play.”
During their six-game winning streak, the No. 6-seed Bulldogs have scored over 28 points in every game. Turlock will travel to El Dorado Hills next week to face third-seeded Oak Ridge.
“Something has clicked this year,” Curtis said. “No matter who is in, they are going to do their job.”