Ceres High School's junior-varsity football team found itself in an unfamiliar position last week.
Shut out during their first three games of the season, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 34-12 lead versus visiting El Capitan of Merced on Friday.
The Gauchos reeled off 24 unanswered points while rallying for a 36-34 victory.
"It's heartbreaking," Ceres High head coach Scott Smith said.
Six-foot freshman quarterback Chris Lubinsky tossed three touchdown passes for the Bulldogs, who dropped to 0-4 on the year.
Seth Gibson had three TDs, including two receiving and one rushing.
Erik Collins had one TD reception.
Nick Alcala scored once on the ground.
"We finally clicked on offense," Smith said.
Added Lubinsky: "My line did wonderful tonight. I wasn't touched."
The Bulldogs squandered a 22-point lead in the second half.
"We did really well for two and a half quarters," Smith said. "Then Cole got hurt and it went downhill from there. We lost all the wind out of our sails. He's our leader on defense."
Cole Silva, Ceres High's middle linebacker, exited the game with a shoulder injury at the beginning of the third quarter.
"He can't even lift his arm right now," Smith said.
The Bulldogs still had a chance to win the game despite struggling mightily in the second half.
Defensive back Alex Torres outjumped an El Capitan receiver and intercepted a pass deep in Ceres High territory late in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs' potential, winning drive ended with an interception on fourth down.
El Capitan ran the final minute off the clock.
"We played well but unfortunately it wasn't good enough tonight," Lubinsky said. "It shows how resilient El Capitan is. We lost our fire. Me personally, I have to do a better job keeping the clock running on offense when they're moving the ball like that."
Modesto High, Gregori and Downey shut out Ceres High during the first three weeks of the 2013 season.
"We improved so much," Smith said. "We hadn't scored any points. Offensively, things really came together."
"We should have won," Lubinsky said. "It sucks to lose but it's a learning experience. That will make us better in the long run."