Special. Explosive. Exciting.
Those are the words Merced coach Rob Scheidt has thrown around when talking about receiver Nick Zamora the past two years.
However, injured was the only word to describe Zamora last season. A deep thigh bruise kept Merced's big-play threat out virtually the whole season.
Zamora is healthy now and and the 6-foot-2 senior displayed his special talents in front of a big homecoming crowd.
Zamora put on a show, hauling in 5 catches for 143 yards, including two long touchdowns to help lead Merced to a 27-7 win over Los Banos at Stadium '76.
"He is special," said Scheidt, whose team improved to 2-2. "What people don't understand about Nick is this is really his first season of football since he was a freshman. And then he was a quarterback and wingback.
"This is a whole new element for him as a receiver."
Zamora looked comfortable against Los Banos.
Quarterback Rudy Monteon's ability to extend plays with his mobility helped give Zamora time to get open for Merced's first touchdown.
Monteon scrambled right and eventually found his favorite target down field and Zamora dove into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown.
"Rudy made the big play," Zamora said. "That was all him. Last year we didn't know if he could make that throw. This year we have confidence in him."
Monteon danced around in the pocket long enough to find Eric DeAnda for a 5-yard touchdown pass a few minutes later to extend Merced's lead to 13-0 with 18 seconds left in the first quarter.
"Three of their touchdowns were just athletes making plays," said Los Banos coach Dennis Stubbs, whose team dropped to 2-3. "Their quarterback was the biggest reason. We had him sacked on that first touchdown. They just made plays."
Los Banos finally put together a drive late in the first half, marching 70 yards on 11 plays. Fullback Paul Jacob capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge to help cut the lead to 13-7.
However, it was just about the only highlight for the LB offense.
Merced's defense pressured quarterback Ryan Carmo all night, recording five sacks. Meanwhile, Los Banos running back Darron Brown was held to just 65 yards on 18 carries.
"We wanted to try to corral Darron Brown and we did the best we could to do that," said Merced defensive tackle Malcom Mann, who had two sacks.
Monteon hooked up with Zamora on a 71-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter that helped put the game away.
Monteon finished with 178 yards passing and three touchdowns. DeAnda carried the ball 19 times for 97 yards.
Merced now has a week to prepare before facing Grant, which is ranked third in the nation by ESPN Rise.
MERCED 27, LOS BANOS 7
At Merced College
Los Banos 0 7 0 0 -- 7
Merced 13 0 14 0 -- 27
M -- Nick Zamora 42 pass from Rudy Monteon (kick failed)
M -- Eric DeAnda 5 pass from Monteon (Robert Stowe kick)
LB -- Paul Jacob 1 run (Derek Neves kick)
M -- DeAnda 15 run (Stowe kick)
M -- Zamora 71 pass from Monteon (Stowe kick)
Records: Los Banos 2-3; Merced 2-2.
JV -- Merced 21-14.