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Ceres High's varsity football team fell just short in its bid to upset heavily-favored Sierra Thursday night at Bulldog Stadium.

The Timberwolves scored the go-ahead touchdown with 8:08 to play and forced a turnover on downs in the waning seconds to escape with a 21-14 victory on the muddy, rain-soaked field.

"This is what we expected," Ceres High senior receiver/cornerback Martino Bertolotti said when asked if he was surprised by the Bulldogs' stout performance. "We're not scared of anybody."

Bertolotti had touchdown receptions of 51 and 11 yards for the Bulldogs, who dropped to 1-7 overall and 1-4 in the Valley Oak League.

Junior quarterback Josh Edwards threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

Junior receiver Justin Canatsy totaled 60 yards on five pass receptions.

Sophomore running back/linebacker Hadon Lopez rushed for 58 yards on nine attempts, to go along with nine tackles.

Junior linebacker Brandon Jolley led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles and one sack.

Senior defensive back Rajdeep Singh intercepted a pass.

The playoff-bound Timberwolves moved to a program-best 7-1 on the year and 5-0 in conference play.

Ceres High and Sierra battled until the end.

The Timberwolves took their third and final lead of the contest on quarterback Ryan Flores' 25-yard passing score to receiver Ryan Erion four minutes into the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs' final two possessions stalled inside Sierra territory.

Edwards just missed connecting with Justin Canatsy on a 17-yard touchdown with 6:12 remaining. Josh's fourth-down pass bounced in front of the diving junior receiver in the left side of the end zone.

Ceres High's last drive started at its own 48-yard line. The Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs at the Sierra 33 after Josh's final pass attempt fell incomplete with 5 seconds to play.

"We got so close and let it slip away," Bertolotti said. "It's tough to swallow. I thought we were going to win. We would have if we executed better."

Ceres High surprised Sierra.

"I think we were a little unprepared," said Flores, who totaled close to 200 yards of offense with two touchdowns. "We took them for granted because of their record. We thought we were going to roll them. It was a tough game."

Ceres High will face winless East Union (0-5) on Friday at Dan Cunial Field. Kickoff slated for 7 p.m.

Frosh Dawgs remain in first place

Ceres High's freshman football team kept its Valley Oak League title hopes alive with a 27-7 throttling of Sierra in the rain on Thursday at Bulldog Stadium.

"We dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball," Ceres head coach Bill Curlis said. "That's what won the game for us."

The Bulldogs and Timberwolves entered the contest in a four-way tie for first place in the Valley Oak League.

The win keeps Ceres High atop the standings with Oakdale at 4-1. The Mustangs knocked off Manteca last week.

The Bulldogs' final two games are against East Union and Central Valley.

"We control our own destiny," Curlis said. "It's nice to be in that position."

Ceres High quarterback Bryson Waring ran for two touchdowns and threw for another score.

Bulldog running back Zach Naylor gained 180 yards with one TD.

Receiver Nick Welsh also scored once.

Ramon Brito converted three of four PATs.

Welsh, Naylor, Brito, Adam Hall, Jesse Hidahl, Michael Vasquez, A.J. Fontana and Shannon Dinsdale led the way on defense.

Nick intercepted a pass.

Ceres High also recovered two fumbles.

"Our defense shut them down," Curlis said. "They couldn't do anything."

The Bulldogs led 14-7 at halftime.

Waring tossed a 60-yard TD pass to Welsh in the first quarter.

Sierra evened contest at 7-7 on Cory Rocha's 83-yard kickoff return.

Bryson scored on a 15-yard run in the second quarter.

Ceres High outscored Sierra 13-0 after intermission.

Naylor scampered 60 yards for a TD in the third quarter.

Waring's 10-yard rushing TD gave the Bulldogs a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter.

"That's the best game we played all year," Curlis said. "We had a really good week of practice."

Officials stop JV contest

Ceres High's junior-varsity football team lost 14-0 to Sierra in a lightning-abbreviated Valley Oak League game that was held in the rain and mud on Thursday at Bulldog Stadium.

"It's disappointing we didn't get to finish," Ceres High head coach Brandon Moring said. "But we have to keep the kids' safety in mind. That's our job."

With the victory, the Timberwolves remained in a tie for second place with Oakdale in the VOL standings at 4-1.

The winless Bulldogs dropped to 0-5 on the year.

"Our kids played one of their best first halves of the entire season," Moring said. "It gives us a little momentum going into East Union."

Officials called the game after lightning struck twice within a 30-minute span prior to the start of the second half.

"I've been involved in several rainy games, but nothing that drastic," Moring said. "I feel bad for my guys. They were playing a heck of a ball game. The scoreboard doesn't reflect that."