MODESTO — Downey High football coach Jeremy Plaa knew that his Knights would need a next-to-perfect game to beat Merced on Friday night at Chuck Hughes Stadium.
"I think we're a better team than we showed tonight," said Plaa. "But we were far from perfect.
The Bears struck for 23 points in the second quarter alone en route to a convincing 43-6 victory over Downey in a nonleague matchup.
Merced quarterback Tyrone Williams a 6-4, 195-pound junior, completed 13 of 23 passes for 248 yards all in the first half including a 34-yard touchdown strike to Travante Richard. Williams also scored twice on sneaks from the 1-yard line.
"I think this was a definite improvement from our first game," said Williams of the Bears' 40-39 escape-job over Clovis West (Fresno) in the opener. "That was my first varsity start and I was very nervous.
"Our defense helped a lot, taking the pressure off me and the offense."
Merced's defense held Downey to just 53 yards passing the first half Logan Cody came on in the first quarter for P.J. Wilson, who dislocated his shoulder and to negative yards rushing. Senior offensive lineman Jesse Roman suffered an apparent knee injury and was carted off the field just before halftime.
"That's why we went to a running clock in the second half," said Plaa. "We played the second quarter a little too passive, and you can't be passive in this game. That's how you get injured or get your teammates injured."
Plaa felt that Downey's lone touchdown, which came with the Knights trailing 37-0, was important.
"I thought that was big, for a little bit of pride," said Plaa, whose team beat Golden Valley 42-39 in last week's opener. "It was important to play for the people in the stands who were still here to watch us."
The Knights' lone score came with 11 minutes, 45 seconds, to play in the game when Wilson hit Josh Lowe from 2 yards out. The extra-point attempt was wide left.
Merced closed the scoring with 2:25 to play when Jabar Byrd scored from the 4.
Kris Turner-Jackson led the Bears with 106 yards rushing on 22 carries and had touchdown runs of 2 and 4 yards.
Merced also got a safety when Jermon Cook sacked Wilson.
"I believe we were more focused, more ready this week," said Bears defensive tackle Jamell Bedford. "We were hungry to get our success rolling; just do our job as a defense."
The Bears were penalized 11 times in the first half for 104 yards.
"I like the way we responded in certain situations," said Bears coach Rob Scheidt. "We got some penalties tonight but we'd come back with a big play not necessarily a big play, but a positive play."