For the second straight week, Merced College went toe-to-toe with a ranked opponent for 30 minutes.
This time around, however, the game never felt like it was in the Blue Devils' hands.
Reedley quarterback Darius Reynolds was the cause of that.
The 6-foot-3 freshman from Virginia was the most dynamic player on the field Saturday evening. And nothing MC couldn't contain him.
Reynolds rushed for a school-record six touchdowns and added a seventh through the air as No. 12 Reedley blew out Merced College 55-28 at Don Odishoo Field.
"He's by far and away the best quarterback we've played this season," MC linebacker Kelsey Mankins said. "It didn't matter what we tried, we couldn't stop him. It was a frustrating night."
That frustration was amplified by the fact that MC (1-4) was very much in the game at the halftime, trailing only 27-21.
While the Blue Devils' defense has no answer for Reynolds, MC's offense matched him blow for blow -- at least for a time.
Reynolds scored on runs of 1, 25, and 3 yards in the first half and added a 39-yard touchdown pass to Juawai Reynolds that came on an MC defensive breakdown.
The Blue Devils countered with a pair of touchdown runs by Marquenten Webb, sandwiched around a 6-yard burst by Garrett Turner.
MC almost added a fourth first-half score, but Adrian Trevino's 31-yard field goal attempt missed as time expired.
Trevino missed again on a 45-yard attempt on the Blue Devils' opening possession of the second half.
Those lost chances provided all the breathing room Reedley needed.
Reynolds led impressive scoring drives on Reedley's first three second-half possessions, breaking the game open.
"We just have to play better," Webb said. "The same thing happened against Fresno (City College). We've played well in the first half, but we have to be a second-half team.
"We haven't turned in a whole game yet."
Had MC not forced a pair of fumbles inside its 20-yard line, the score could have been
Reedley (4-1) produced 664 yards of total offense -- 489 on the ground -- and never had to punt.
What really broke the
Blue Devils' backs were Reedley's third-down conversions, many of which came on long-yardage situations.
Reedley converted 7 of 12 third downs -- many contributing to Reynolds' 147 rushing yards.
Anything Reynolds failed
to pick up on third down, he got on fourth -- where Reedley was a perfect 4 of 4.
"(Reynolds) was the difference," MC coach
Tony Lewis said. "You take him out of the equation and it's an entirely different ball game.
"Of course, when you do have a quarterback running around out there like that, you have to put some hits on him. And we didn't."
With the deficit growing, MC's offense began to stall as plays became forced.
Mankins closed out the
Blue Devils' scoring with a 91-yard interception return,
but the game had long since been decided.