MC offense ends month-long slump

REDDING -- Performances like this have been few and far between for the Merced College football team.

Reid Herchenbach threw four touchdown passes as the Blue Devils' offense woke up from a month-long slumber in 48-20 victory over Shasta on Saturday.

The sophomore quarterback was 11 of 16 for 248 yards and no interceptions, hooking up twice with DeAnte Sanders in the end zone to keep Merced College perfect in Mid-Empire Conference play.

"I've always thought that we've done a good job of executing plays, but we haven't been getting that huge play," MC coach

Tony Lewis said of his much-maligned offensive unit.

"This game we finally did."

Cameron Graham's 63-yard scoring play in the fourth quarter was the afternoon's biggest moment.

With Shasta creeping back into the fold, the burly tight end took a simple screen pass from Herchenbach and turned up field.

The play was intended to just move the chains, but ...

"You could see it develop," Lewis said. "There were a couple of key blocks by the receivers, and all of sudden, he was outrunning people.

"He weighs 260 pounds, so when you get him in the open field, you better watch out."

Carl Smith led all receivers with five catches for 153 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter.

The Blue Devils were just as potent in other phases of the game.

Running backs David Del Toro, David Foster and Garrett Turner combined for 200-plus yards and three touchdowns, and the defense forced seven turnovers.

With the win, Merced College (3-4, 2-0 MEC) matched its

2-0 start in conference play from a season ago.

But Lewis is celebrating with caution.

The Blue Devils closed 2006 with losses to Siskiyous, Sacramento City and Laney -- wiping away conference title and bowl hopes.

"It's good to come back home with a little momentum and playing well," Lewis said. "But to be truthful, we were 2-0 last year. We still have teams we've got to beat."