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Early strikes help Chargers down 'Boys

Posted Aug 21, 2011

First-half touchdowns by Randy McMichael and Ryan Mathews, along with three turnovers by the defense, helped San Diego to a win Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.

DALLAS – San Diego’s starters built a 10-point halftime lead for the second consecutive game.

The Chargers left no room for a fourth-quarter comeback this time, defeating Dallas, 20-7, Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.

Ryan Mathews and Randy McMichael each scored first-half touchdowns and Nate Kaeding added field goals of 25 and 53 yards. Dallas never posed a serious threat to the Bolts’ lead in the second half.

“The two days of practice (with Dallas) were outstanding. I thought that was extremely productive for us,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “It’s important that we continue to emphasize starting fast. I thought we did in the game. I know we went three-and-out in the first drive, but after that we moved the ball,” Head Coach Norv Turner said.

San Diego earned a plus-three turnover margin and avoided a giveaway as Jeromey Clary recovered a Mike Tolbert fumble inside the 10-yard line and a Cowboys interception was overturned on replay.

Another efficient effort by Philip Rivers propelled the Bolts to 17 early points.

Mathews jump-started the Chargers’ running game in the second quarter with three carries for 25 yards, the latter a 15-yard meandering touchdown dash through several would-be tacklers. Initially ruled down at the 1-yard line, Turner’s second replay challenge revealed Mathews snuck the ball inside the pylon on his way out of bounds.

“Just make sure you’ve got the ball and go for the pylon,” Mathews said. “As soon as the ball crosses that plane and you’re still in, you’re good, so as long as you’ve got control of the ball and don’t stumble, you’ll be straight.”

McMichael made the catch of the night on the other touchdown. Starting in place of Antonio Gates, McMichael claimed the entire right region of the end zone on a 7-yard catch in the second quarter, but had to make a nifty grab-and-plant to make sure both feet touched down in-bounds.

Dallas tight end Jason Witten matched his counterpart on the next drive, catching a 6-yard touchdown pass with 8:48 left in the second quarter, the first points scored against San Diego’s starting defense this season.

The Chargers did force three turnovers. One play after the Cowboys reached Chargers territory to the 49-yard line, the first time an opponent crossed midfield against the Bolts’ starters this preseason, Eric Weddle intercepted a Tony Romo pass.

Jonas Mouton and C.J. Wallace combined on a forced fumble and recovery in the third quarter. Corey Liuget had a sack and strip in the fourth that Andrew Gachkar eventually recovered.

The Chargers appeared to extend the lead to 23-7 in the third quarter as Jordan Todman took a screen pass and skipped through open field for a 36-yard touchdown, but an ineligible man downfield negated the score.

For the second time in as many games, a downfield catch by Vincent Jackson keyed an early scoring drive for the Chargers.

Jackson caught a 29-yard pass moving away from the left hashmark, leading to a Kaeding field goal. The Chargers have scored first in each of their two preseason games.

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