FRESNO -- Too big. Too fast. Too good. That's what just about every opponent has said about the Merced football team over the past three years.
But on Friday night, that was about all Merced could say about Fresno Edison after a superior team ran them off the field -- 43-14 in a battle of state-ranked teams at Chukchansi Park.
"Wow, they're a good football team," said Merced coach Rob Scheidt, whose team dropped to 2-1. "They're so explosive."
Merced struggled adjusting to Edison's speed right from the start.
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Quarterback Allen Huddleston -- who had been running circles around defensive lineman from Napa and Madera the last two weeks -- was run down and thrown around like a rag doll.
When Huddleston did get time, he couldn't get away with less-than-perfect throws against a talented Edison secondary.
Edison intercepted two Huddleston passes, including one that was returned 43 yards for a touchdown by All-American cornerback Cliff Harris.
"Everyone on their team was fast," said Huddleston, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown. "Their defensive ends, tackles...
"It was hard to adjust.
"Their defensive backs would still be in their back-pedal and I'd throw to an outside shoulder -- or on a hitch, they would make a move for the ball so quick. It was a learning experience."
Merced was able to play Edison to a scoreless draw through the first quarter.
However, the turnovers and poor field position caught up to Scheidt's guys quickly in the second quarter.
Three of Edison's four first-half possessions started inside of Merced's 40-yard line.
Edison did march 80 yards for its first score -- with Rolando Jefferson catching a pass from Max Shuh, stepping out of a Bernard Bolden tackle and then bouncing off two other tackle attempts down the sideline for a 34-yard touchdown.
William Wright then intercepted an errant Huddleston pass to set up Edison's next TD.
Shuh took advantage of Jefferson's 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame by lofting a high pass in the corner of the end zone and Jefferson out-jumped everyone for the touchdown.
Harris then returned his interception for a touchdown on Merced's next possession -- and just like that it was 19-0 late in the second quarter.
"It wasn't just Allen's throws, it was runs he got away with that he wasn't getting away with tonight," Scheidt said. "He was frustrated.
"But it wasn't all on him. Our receivers didn't come out of their routes quick enough. I think we were a little intimidated by their safety (T.J. McDonald)."
Edison running back Marquise Cooper ran for 128 yards in the second half, including an 81-yard touchdown run on the first play of the third quarter.
Merced's two scores came in the fourth quarter, with Huddleston hooking up with Kenny Cooper for an 80-yard touchdown pass and Stephon Mathis breaking a 74-yard touchdown run.
"We have to go out next week like this never happened," said Merced receiver Eddie Beavers. "We can't let one loss ruin our season."
Scheidt echoed those comments, pointing to CCC and section titles as achievable goals.
"Everything is still there," he said. "I think we've got a very good football team. I'd like to go to battle in a game like this with them again."