For one half, Downey High gave its homecoming crowd plenty to cheer about in Friday night's non-league football game against Lincoln of Stockton.
But the Knights came undone in the second half, committing four turnovers that opened the door for the visiting Trojans, who kicked it in with 21 unanswered points en route to a 42-13 victory at Chuck Hughes Stadium.
Downey quarterback Jason Lee, who entered the game No. 2 in the nation with an average of 389 yards passing per game, completed 27 of 41 pass attempts for 308 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Through five games, Lee has completed 125 of 192 attempts for 1,864 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
But Lee faced constant pressure in the second half and was unable to lead the Knights into the end zone over the final two quarters.
"Our kids played with a lot of heart tonight," Downey coach Jeremy Plaa said. "We got a lot of our guys on defense back, and it really showed.
"We've been real banged-up defensively all year, but the kids haven't given up and haven't turned on each other. The coaches have been working hard with them, telling them to keep the faith, and tonight you could see what a difference it made in the first half."
Lincoln got solid play from its own quarterback, Brandon Gildea, who was 13 for 23 for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Lincoln (4-1) held a slim 21-13 advantage at the half thanks to touchdown runs of 13 and 28 yards from Darryl Cash and a 35-yard scoring strike from Gildea to David Carmon.
The Trojans then pulled away in the third quarter thanks to two scores from Cedric Anderson, who used his speed to turn a 2-yard swing pass into a 36-yard touchdown, then ran 27 yards for another while lined up at quarterback. A 15-yard TD run by Christian Penzon capped the scoring for the Trojans.
Downey (1-4) gave Lincoln all it could handle in the first half, in which Lee passed for 227 yards and hooked up with Corey Keller and Logan Garrett on TD passes of 12 and 23 yards. The Knights were on the verge of a potential game-tying score late in the first half when Lee completed a deep pass to Javon Kelly (8 catches, 97 yards) that had Downey set up at the Lincoln four. But Kelly was flagged for offensive pass interference, nullifying a 45-yard gain.
"Another good thing about a game like this is that you want to get out of it with everyone healthy, and we were able to do that," said Plaa. "We have some things we need to fix, but we'll get there."
Now, the Knights' focus is on the opening of the Modesto Metro Conference season, which kicks off for Downey Thursday night at home against Davis.
"We start over now with the MMC," said Plaa, "and we're looking forward to Thursday night's game with Davis."