High School Football

Turner’s defensive scores highlight night of fireworks for Merced football


Merced High assistant coach Dean Hammit was beside himself.

With his headgear in his hand and a vein bulging in the side of his neck, he accused the Bears defense of playing soft after surrendering a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to visiting Enochs.

Jamar Turner responded.

The senior safety intercepted a Shawn Munoz pass and returned it 32 yards for a score on Merced’s next defensive series and then pounced on a botched snap less than two minutes later, returning it 18 yards for a touchdown. It was part of a wild 35-point Bears outburst that spanned the end of the first quarter and start of the second, breaking open a 70-35 victory over the Eagles.

“That’s something we practice all the time,” Turner said. “I saw the play and was breaking before he threw it.

“It just shows the hype. The offense gets going and the defense feeds off of it and wants to score, also.”

After a week of setup for the second on-campus football game in the school’s history, the Bears (2-2) rewarded the standing-room-only homecoming crowd with nonstop fireworks.

Jabar Byrd (six carries for 146 yards and two touchdowns) set the tone, taking a screen pass 45 yards on Merced’s first play. The Bears struck for seven plays of 20 yards or more in the game, and Josh Taylor hauled in a 13-yard touchdown reception three plays later to make it 7-0.

Enochs (0-4) showed it possesses some big-play talent of its own, as Eddie Alderson (13 carries, 126 yards) returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a score.

Eagles quarterback Munoz (188 total yards, three touchdowns) followed that up with a 4-yard QB keeper to tie the game at 14-14 with 32 seconds to play in the first quarter.

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The next 6 minutes and 30 seconds was all Merced.

The Bears needed just two plays to answer as AJ Stewart hauled in his first TD catch of the year on a 45-yard Tyrone Williams pass. Turner had the pick-six on Enochs’ next play from scrimmage and took the botched punt snap in on the next series. Another Eagles turnover set up Williams (9 of 15 for 193 yards, four total touchdowns) for a 3-yard TD run, and Taylor fell on an Ulonzo Gilliam fumble in the end zone to make it 49-14 with just under six minutes to play in the half.

“That’s what we’re capable of doing,” Stewart said. “Once we get one touchdown, we follow it with another and another. Next thing you know, we’ve got four or five in a row.”

Touchdown runs by Bryce Bernat and Byrd on Merced’s first two possessions of the second half put the game away.

This story was originally published September 20, 2014 12:25 AM.

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