No mercy for Merced


Quarterback Adam Wood throws a quick pass to wide receiver Tre Dean.

Gabriel Agurcia

DVC football got its first win of the season with a resounding 47-18 drubbing of Merced College on Friday, Oct. 4.

Merced began the night on a sloppy note, fumbling on their first snap, which was recovered at the Merced-39 by defensive lineman Sione Tupouata. Although DVC was unable to capitalize on the turnover, they would score soon enough.

On their second drive of the game, quarterback Adam Wood, making his first start of the season, connected with wide receiver Efrain Montalvo for a long gain down to the Merced-3. Wood then scampered into the end zone on a quarterback draw, giving DVC an early 7-0 lead.

The team’s traded punts until the 2:44 mark of the first quarter, when completions to receivers Tre Dean and Quinton Hill and an Adam Wood run set up a Steven Thayer field goal, making it 10-0.

The offense really began to click in the second quarter. Back-to-back first down receptions by Eric Ellis and Terell Robertson, followed by a defensive holding penalty on Merced, put the Vikings at the Merced-38. Running back Javis Blalock danced around several defenders on a 19 yard run, setting up a touchdown pass lofted to the right corner of the end zone, hauled in my Montalvo.

Merced continued to feel the wrath of the Vikings’ stout defense. Defensive lineman Nathan Dollar busted through the line and pile drove the running back. A Tui Talia sack forced the Blue Devils into yet another punt, giving DVC the ball back with a about nine minutes left in the quarter.

“This group really holds each other accountable every day in practice, and they take a lot of pride in what they do, regardless of what the score is,” head coach Mike Darr said of the defense.

After a facemask penalty gave DVC a fresh set of downs, Wood threw a strike to Montalvo down the seam, and Montalvo outran two defenders for a 76 yard touchdown.

On the Blue Devils’ ensuing possession, cornerback Robert Johnson intercepted a lazy Merced pass, taking it back for a pick six. Two scores in just a over a minute gave DVC a 31-0 advantage.

Aside from being pounded by the Viking defense, Merced made fundamental mistakes. After cornerback Derrick Johnson forced a punt with a big hit on a Merced receiver, the snap sailed over the punter’s head and out the back of the endzone for a safety.

Wood made his first error of the game when he threw slightly behind Eric Ellis, the ball bouncing off his arm and right into safety Jordy Kaiser’s arms, who returned it to the DVC-27.

Even with great starting field position, the Blue Devils were unable to capitalize. Forced to go for it on fourth down with such a huge deficit, Merced called a play-action pass. Defensive end Siua Taufa read it, stopping to watch where the quarterbaack was heading, then chasing him down for a sack and turnover on downs.

DVC put together one final scoring drive before halftime, finished off with a two yard touchdown pass to Dean on a quick out route. Talia recorded his second sack to end a lopsided first half, with the Vikings staking a 40-0 lead.

Merced didn’t go down as quietly as it appeared they would. After a long completion down to the DVC-26 on their first play of the second half, receiver Carlos Diaz caught Merced’s first touchdown of the game just 1:30 in. A missed extra point left the score at 40-6.

The Vikings offense slowed down in the second half, whether by coincidence or scaled back play-calling. On the only lengthy drive of the half, a Blalock fumble was scooped up and returned 60 yards for a touchdown. Another missed extra point made it 40-12.

DVC scored its sixth and final touchdown on a 16 yard Joe Te’o run with 12:40 remaining in the fourth quarter. Merced put up its third touchdown and missed extra point, ending both sides’ scoring for the night.

The Vikings got their first win in resounding fashion, 47-18.

“It’s so rewarding for the coaches, and especially for these guys. Because they’ve been working so hard, and they’ve been playing so well, dealing with the adversity that we’ve had,” Darr said of the victory.

Darr expressed a lot of happiness, along with a clear sense of relief. One of his keys to the win was the presence of a consistent offensive line. For the first time all year, a set of five starting linemen were together for more than a week, which helped Wood immensely in his first career start.

Of the decision to give Wood the nod, Darr pointed to his mobility, but more so to his play-making ability.

“He’s just got that intangible that’s tough to find. You saw when there were some bad snaps and some broken plays, he was able to make something out of it,” Darr said.

Defensive lineman Justus Brown summed it all up: “Our coach knew we weren’t playing to our potential. Everybody knew we weren’t playing to our potential. It was just the little things that we kept messing up on. Mainly, what we didn’t do throughout the first four games that we did do this game, was finish. And I’m glad we did that.”

DVC looks to carry the momentum of this win into next week’s home game against Monterey Peninsula on Friday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m.