Ceres High's varsity football team found itself in a competitive battle with visiting Weston Ranch during the opening half of Friday's season opener.
Clinging to a 7-6 lead, the Bulldogs mustered one touchdown the rest of the way in losing 40-13 to the Cougars in non-conference play.
"Our defense played really well," Ceres High senior quarterback Chris Lubinsky said. "The final score doesn't indicate that. They were the reason we were in the game for really long. We just never got into a full rhythm on offense."
The Bulldogs averaged 30.1 points per game last fall.
Ceres High was limited to two touchdowns last week.
Lubinsky completed 25 of 42 passes for 303 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Marcellus Boykins caught 11 passes for 159 yards.
Conner Johnson hauled in four passes for 78 yards and one TD.
Lubinsky and Wyatt Ogden combined for a 5-yard scoring play.
Nick Jones totaled 47 yards on three receptions.
The Bulldogs had minus-4 rushing yards on 19 carries.
Ceres High punted seven times.
"Weston Ranch was a big, physical team," Lubinsky said. "They had a pretty good pass rush. They took away our running game. It will only make us better seeing a team like that."
The Cougars racked up 467 yards and six touchdowns on offense.
Weston Ranch had 321 rushing yards on 28 carries.
Johnson and Ogden both collected a team-high five tackles on defense.
Arturo Barajas registered one sack.
Adrian Knights recovered a fumble.
Ceres High held a slim 7-6 at intermission.
Weston Ranch returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown.
"It was an intense first half," Lubinsky said. "We had the lead. That was exciting. The game got away from us. I think we'll be able to bounce back."
Boykins and Johnson were sidelined with ankle and hip injuries, respectively, during the fourth quarter.
"They were both having great games," Lubinsky said. "We need both of those guys on the field to be successful. They're a big part of our offense."
Ceres High will play host to East Union this Friday at 7 p.m.
"I expect us to score a lot more," Lubinsky said. "It should be a good game. We have a lot of guys on our team that want to win badly."