ATWATER — The longest winning streak in the Central California Conference now belongs to Merced.
The Bears snapped Buhach Colony's streak of 16 straight conference wins with a convincing 41-20 win on Friday night at Atwater High.
Merced's big-play ability was again on display as the Bears (5-2 overall, 2-0 CCC) ran off 34 straight points in the second and third quarters to open up a 41-7 lead before the Thunder scored two late touchdowns.
Merced quarterback Tyrone Williams threw three touchdowns and ran for another score. Running backs Kris Turner-Jackson and Jabar Byrd combined for 238 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 19 carries.
"You could feel the energy at the beginning of the game," said Bears head coach Rob Scheidt, whose team now has won five straight CCC games. "I felt like it was a big game. Our guys responded with a lot of big plays.
"We've been on the other end of this. It's a tribute to those guys because it's hard to keep a run like this going and they did. That offense is hard to defend."
Merced opened the game with an impressive 71-yard drive that needed only eight plays. Williams completed four of four passing attempts on the drive for 45 yards and Byrd scored on a 6-yard run to give the Bears a 7-0.
Buhach Colony (3-4, 1-1) responded late in the first quarter as Quintin Levesque caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Darin Dupont to tie the game at 7-all.
Then the Bears defense took over.
Linebacker Sam Scheidt intercepted two Dupont passes in the second quarter to help set up touchdown drives.
Buhach Colony turned the ball over four times in the first half.
"That was the turning point in the game," Sam Scheidt said. "We had to make plays and get our offense back on the field.
"We had recognized they were running some curls. I just got a little deeper on my drops and I was able to make the right reads. We got some great pressure from Jermon (Cook). It all came together for us."
The Bears offense shifted into overdrive in the second quarter.
Williams completed 6 of 8 passes in the second quarter for 122 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown to Travante Richard and a 70-yard scoring strike to A.J. Stewart.
Williams completed 13 of 20 passes in the game for 209 yards and no interceptions.
For the second straight game the Merced offense averaged close to 10 yards per play. The Bears averaged 9.4 yards per play against Buhach Colony on 47 plays.
Turner-Jackson set the tone for the Bears offense early, running for 114 yards in the first half before finishing with 141 yards on 15 carries.
Byrd broke free for a 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and tallied 97 yards on just four carries. The Merced junior has 225 rushing yards and four touchdowns on just seven carries in his last two games.
"Kris ran the ball well and ran hard," Rob Scheidt said. "Jabar and the other guys just accentuate that hard running, too."
The Thunder couldn't help but come away impressed with the Bears.
"They are legit," said Buhach Colony head coach Kevin Swartwood. "They have guys who can run and pass."
The Thunder have more important things to worry about than the end of their streak.
With just three wins, Buhach Colony can't afford any more missteps the rest of the season.
"We have to win the rest of the way as far as the playoffs are concerned," Swartwood said.
Merced can take another step toward a CCC title against Pitman next week.
The Bears might take a little time to celebrate their role as streak busters first.
"I've never beaten Buhach in my life," Sam Scheidt said. "I think this win really defines us."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or email@example.com.