Ceres High's varsity football team turned in one of its best defensive performances in recent memory this past week.
The Bulldogs surrendered just one touchdown during the second half of Friday's 34-33 home win over the previously-unbeaten Huskies of Hughson.
Ceres High did the improbable by rallying from 20 points down to secure the victory.
"When you have self-doubt, it's hard to be successful," Bulldogs defensive coordinator Brett Johnson said. "They're starting to believe in their abilities."
Felipe Martinez (11), Shane Bell (six) and Jaime Topete (four), Ceres High's three main linebackers, combined for 21 tackles.
Andrew Alcala totaled eight tackles while contributing at defensive end for the first time.
Defensive back Daniel Hadwick chipped in with five tackles and one pass deflection.
Defensive back Isaac Santana collected four tackles, forced one fumble and tallied one pass deflection.
Linebacker Caden Hoback recovered one fumble and registered two tackles.
"Our defense did a phenomenal job," Ceres High head coach Bret Durossette said. "It was awesome to watch."
Ceres High shored up its defense after surrendering 26 points in the opening half.
Hughson stormed out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter as Carlos Arreola scored on runs of 67 and 74 yards.
Arreola had a 10-yard rushing TD in the second quarter.
"We gave up two big touchdown runs in the first quarter," Johnson said. "I was pulling out what little hair I have left. Our game plan was solid. I knew if our kids executed, we'd be fine. They're starting to understand the concept 11 as one. It takes a team effort."
Hughson mustered just seven points during the second half.
Arreola raced 25 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
"Our defense became real stingy," Ceres High offensive coordinator Brandon Moring said. "We got them out of their game plan."
"The thing I'm most proud of is we were down 26-6 and the kids kept working," Johnson said. "It was fun to stand and watch the excitement they had when they did their job well. We took away their strength (rushing) and forced them to go to their weakness (passing). The kids started getting the ball back for the offense. We had two fourth-down stops. It was a solid defensive effort."
Jorge Tiscareno's clutch, 24-yard field goal gave the Bulldogs a 34-33 lead with 1:20 to play.
Hughson turned the ball over on downs after failing to complete four straight passes on its second-to-last possession.
Unable to run the clock out, Ceres High's offense was forced to punt.
The ball sailed into the end zone with 3 seconds left in regulation.
Hoping for a miraculous ending, Hughson players lateraled the ball several times before Martinez secured the victory with a tackle.
Ceres High's defense stepped up again.
"We were up by one," Tiscareno said. "They still had a chance to come back. I had trust in my teammates we'd be able to stop them."
"The defense won the game for us," Moring said. "The effort was phenomenal in the second half."
"That type of performance is what we're capable of and I expect to see more often," Johnson said. "We just have to execute from the beginning."