Running back Justin Davis showed all facets of his running game in the Trojans' 52-7 first round win over Merced. The USC commit and Army All-American finished with 296 yards and five touchdowns.
The 6-foot-1, 194 pound back needed just 23 carries for those 296 yards, including four runs of at least 20 yards. All but one of his runs came out of single backfield looks with two wide receivers and two tight ends. Using the left side a majority of time, Davis ran off tackle or stretch runs to the outside and also displayed his cutback and stop and start ability. He also ran out of a four wide receiver shotgun look staying between the tackles. His top two runs of the night came on scoring plays.
On Lincoln's first drive out of the two tight end set, Davis ran a stretch play left with wide receiver reverse action to the backside. Davis bounced it to the outside, stopped at the sideline made a sharp jump cut and took it in from 24 yards out.
Later in the first half, he once again took off on an off tackle/stretch play to the left in a two tight end look. He cut back to the middle of the field and then shot back to the sideline before beating defenders down the boundary for an 80 yard score. Along with good play from the offensive line (after a poor opener against Elk Grove), it was a run heavy night for the Trojans with similar success against the Bears as Buhach Colony had during league play.
His fellow Division I commit, quarterback Zack Greenlee, didn't need to make many plays with a 4-for-9 performance for 100 yards and a touchdown. The Fresno State commit and 3-star recruit flashed his mobility in picking up yards when his primary options were covered and also arm strength to force the ball downfield while on the move. His deep ball looked good on Friday, but he also missed a handful of underneath to medium routes. The passing attack went to the play action game, but Merced defended it well.
Merced on the other hand is predicated on showing various looks on offense, but only totaled 263 total yards. The Bears run out of the shotgun and showed empty backfield as well as three wide receivers to one side. Most of the passing game centers on quick passes and dump offs form quarterback Eli Gutierrez.
They seemed to generate something early with a power running attack off zone reads, but missed reads and penetration by Lincoln ended the success. On the night, the Bears had just two plays of 20+ yards. Junior linebacker Cyrus Boone and senior linebacker Adrian Ramos read plays well to create negative runs despite Lincoln rarely rushing more than three players.
The Trojans covered well despite being spread out and attacked the line of scrimmage on screens. Their defense also forced four turnovers, including returning a fumble for a score during a running clock fourth quarter.
Lincoln now travels to Franklin-Elk Grove in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs. The Trojans entered the year as the top SJS team and No. 2 overall in Northern California. However, a season opening home loss to Elk Grove and a 2-3 non-league stretch dropped Lincoln to the bottom of the NCP Top 20.
Are they starting to put it together with a tough test against the undefeated Wildcats next week?