Merced College

MC football looks for sharper performance

Bob Casey is tired of what-might-have-beens.

On paper, his Merced College football team put itself in position to have a fighting chance in Saturday’s season opener at Modesto Junior College.

The Blue Devils amassed a little less 400 yards of total offense. They won the turnover battle, picking the Pirates three times, and drew fewer yellow hankies.

It was a scenario Casey happily would have taken heading into the rivalry showdown, but the Blue Devils have only their costly mistakes to blame for the 51-35 loss.

“In all honesty, we came out kind of sloppy and they got on us,” said wide receiver Tyrell Vinson, who caught eight balls for 164 yards and a touchdown. “We kept fighting hard, but we never really recovered.

“I think the focus is a little better in practice and we know we can’t come out slow again.”The start was as disastrous as any MC could have imagined.

After driving down the field on its opening possession, a botched snap denied the Blue Devils a field goal try. Modesto struck for a 40-yard touchdown pass five plays later to take a 7-0 lead.

On its next possession, Merced College had another promising drive cut down by a fumble and the Pirates hit with a 65-yard reverse on the next play to build a 14-0 lead.

Trevor Mew was intercepted on the very next play from scrimmage, handing MJC another short field. The Pirates scored three plays later for a 21-0 lead.

“We just didn’t play the way we were capable of,” Casey said. “They capitalized on every mistake and we didn’t. We had poorly timed penalties. We missed third-down conversion opportunities and didn’t get them off of the field when we could have.

“We left eight points on the field with a couple botched field goals and a blown two-point conversion. When we’re doing an onside kick at the end of the game, those eight points could have been huge.”

Merced College (0-1) gets no opportunity to lick its wounds with a Fresno City team that’s just as talented — if not more so — coming to Stadium ’76 on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.The Rams (1-0) are coming off of a convincing 30-6 win over West Hills.

Fresno City showed a balanced offense in Week 1 behind quarterback Mike Baker (172 yards and two touchdowns) and running back James Holland (108 yards on 11 carries, one TD).

The Ram defense held West Hills’ vaunted run game to just 53 yards on 34 carries.

“They look good,” Casey said of Fresno. “They’re disciplined. They’ve got athletes. They’re going to be very sound all over.

“We always knew the first two weeks of the season were going to be a real challenge,” he added. "What we need to do is protect the ball, tackle well and then let the chips fall where they may. We didn’t play well against Modesto. This is an opportunity for the guys to see where we’re really at.”

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