High School Football

Merced routs Atwater in Santa Fe Bowl

ATWATER – Tyrone Williams said the Merced High football team elevated their focus at practice this week.

After a 3-2 non-conference season, the Bears wanted to double their efforts for the start of conference play.

It seemed to pay off of as Williams and the first-unit offense scored a touchdown in all seven of their possessions Friday night. The offensive efficiency coupled with four Atwater turnovers turned the 45th Santa Fe Bowl into a 49-13 rout at Falcon Field.

“Everybody took a different approach in practice this week,” said Willams who was 9 of 11 passing for 155 yards and four touchdowns to go along with 76 rushing yards and another score. “Now that we’re in conference we really wanted to kick it up another notch. We’re not looking to go 3-2 like the first five games.

“Tonight everything was clicking on the offense. We’re almost impossible to beat when the running backs and our line are playing like they can, and if you take that away, I can get you through the air.”

Atwater (1-5, 0-1 Central California Conference) came into the contest hoping to control the ball and shorten the game with a possession attack.

The game plan didn’t last long as quarterback Frank Cocio was intercepted on his first two pass attempts in the game.

Both set up Merced (4-2, 1-0 CCC) scores and Williams found Joash Taylor and Brandon McKinney for touchdown passes of 36 and 8 yards respectively.

Williams tacked on a 47-yard touchdown run on the Bears’ next possession to give Merced a 21-0 lead at the end of one.

The Merced senior quarterback was just getting started.

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Williams connected with Nick Camper for a 21-yard touchdown pass to open the second quarter and Merced rode back-to-back Atwater fumbles to an AJ Stewart 27-yard TD catch and a Jabar Byrd 37-yard scoring run 11 seconds apart.

That all but put the game away as the Bears went into intermission up 42-0.

“We had a really good week of practice, and I think that focus the kids brought really carried over into the game,” Bears coach Rob Scheidt said. “I was a little anxious because they were trying to run the clock on us. Sometimes that can be an effective strategy.

“Once the defense started forcing some turnovers, the points piled up on them pretty quickly.”

Ulonzo Gilliam ended the first-unit’s night with a 3-yard touchdown run to open the second half.

Atwater found a little offensive success against the Bears’ subs in the second half. Cocio tossed a 60-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to get the Falcons on the board and Michael Vargas punched in a 5-yard TD run in the fourth.

“You can’t turn the ball over like that against Merced,” Atwater coach Bob Valladao said. “They’ve got too many athletes to make plays if you give them chances.

“Things start to break down and guys don’t trust what we’ve schemed and that’s when it gets sloppy and you’ll see those mistakes made.”

This story was originally published October 10, 2014 11:55 PM.

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