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Merced College football struggles against De Anza

Tony Lewis gave a quick glance to the scoreboard and shook his head in disbelief.

For the second straight week, the Merced College coach was at a loss for words while trying to explain the performance his team had just turned in.

The Blue Devils shored up their opening week special teams mistakes, but five MC turnovers led to four De Anza touchdowns in a 35-7 loss at Don Odishoo Field on Saturday night.

"Obviously, we need to look at what we're doing as coaches, because I'm not sure why we're playing like this," Lewis said.

"Of all the games on our schedule, these were the two we were confident we could win.

"Now that we're 0-2, it's definitely gut-check time.

"We still have team goals to do some exciting things and we're about to find out what we're made of."

Much like the Blue Devils' opener, MC handed its opponent an early lead.

A pair of Garrett Turner fumbles dug the hole this time.

The first came via a botched exchange with quarterback Ryan Williston, handing De Anza (1-1) the ball at MC's 20-yard line.

De Anza quarterback Daniel Cruz tossed the first of three touchdown passes four plays later.

The Blue Devils appeared poised to atone promptly for the mistake, driving to the De Anza 8-yard line.

But the turnover bug struck again.

Turner couldn't get a handle on a Williston pitch and then couldn't cover up the loose ball.

De Anza's Gordy Inocencio finally picked the thing off the turf and sprinted 79 yards to score.

Despite the early gifts, De Anza found little success against MC's defense and right before the half, the Blue Devil offense finally took advantage.

Defensive tackle Leon Jackson swung momentum MC's way, stuffing De Anza's Brandon Hamilton for a 4-yard loss on a fourth-and-goal from MC's 1-yard line.

Williston and the offense kept it going.

MC marched 95 yards in just over four minutes, cutting the lead to 14-7 on a Williston 36-yard touchdown pass to Maquese McIntyre with eight seconds left in the half.

"At halftime everyone was up," McIntyre said. "It was like we were winning in the locker room.

"We couldn't carry it over to the second half.

"We had the right game plan. What it all comes down to is we've just got to want it more.

"Tonight the scoreboard didn't lie."

De Anza deflated the Blue Devils' momentum with a score on the opening possession of the second half.

Williston then went into self-destruct mode.

The MC sophomore threw three second half interceptions, two of which led to De Anza scores.

Williston had trouble finding a comfort zone, completing just 13 of his 28 pass attempts for 162 yards.

"After all that stuff that went wrong, we were right there in the game," Williston said. "I've got to play better.

"They weren't really doing anything defensively. I just wasn't throwing good balls."