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Knights beat much-improved Bulldogs
Although the 26-7 score didn't indicate it, Ceres High's varsity football team proved to be a difficult challenge for the heavily-favored Downey Knights Friday night in Ceres.

And if not for red-zone inefficiency, the outcome might have been different.

"There was a lot of improvement from last week to this week," said Bulldogs coach Brett Johnson, whose team opened its 2007 campaign with a 33-0 loss to the Davis Spartans. "We earned their respect tonight. That's a lot to be proud of."

"We had four good days of practice," junior receiver/defensive back Martino Bertolotti added. "It carried over to the game."

Ceres High dropped to 0-2 on the year.

Downey improved to 2-0 overall.

The Bulldogs racked up 228 yards of total offense and 14 first downs on the night.

Ceres senior quarterback Zack Atchison completed 9 of 20 passes for 133 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He hooked up with five different players, including Michael Staggs (2-45), Matt Smith (2-25), Martino Bertolotti (2-18), Devin Eudy (2-16) and Mayiank Kumar (1-8).

The Bulldogs gained 95 rushing yards on 43 carries. Smith ran for 48 yards on 19 carries. Freshman Hadon Lopez added 28 yards on five attempts.

The Knights amassed 17 first downs and 345 yards of offense.

Downey gained 261 yards on the ground on 39 carries. Cody Ball rumbled for 132 yards and a score on eight attempts. Kwame Fungula and Ian Larsen both added a rushing TD.

Joe Napoleon caught five passes for 65 yards and one touchdown.

Lopez had a standout performance on defense for the Bulldogs. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound middle linebacker tallied 11 tackles, bringing his season total to 25.

Kumar registered seven tackles and recovered a fumble.

Eudy collected three tackles and an interception.

Michael Flores had two tackles and a fumble recovery.

"I'm more satisfied this week," Lopez said. "We actually competed more."

The Bulldogs had two drives stall inside the Downey 20 en route to falling behind 20-0 in the opening half.

"There's no excuse," Ceres offensive coordinator Clint Goblirsch said. "You got to put it in the end zone when you get that close."

Atchison and Bertolotti helped the Bulldogs break their streak of seven-plus scoreless quarters. Martino caught a 17-yard TD pass from Zack with nine minutes remaining in the game.

"It wasn't my first touchdown," Bertolotti said. "It was the team's first touchdown. Everyone was happy. It felt good."

"I'm proud of our kids because they didn't give up," Goblirsch added.

Calaveras (1-1) will host Ceres High Friday night at 7.

"We're a young team," Lopez said. "All we can do is get better."