Of course Turpin had some help, especially from both the running Cowboys and the team’s running defense. Dallas rushed for 115 yards while Rico Dowdle and Malik Davis led with averages of 3.4 and 4.6 yards per carry, respectively. Conversely, on the other side of the ball, the defense allowed Chargers’ back runs less than 3 yards per carry.
Overall, the Cowboys outplayed Los Angeles 242 to 296, despite playing 17 fewer games thanks to Turpin’s fireworks. In addition, the defense as a whole had two takeaways and three sacks.
In the battle to determine who would be the backup quarterback, Cooper Rush got his start and led the team’s first two series. His night, however, was made after completing 3 of 6 tries for 32 yards and a passer rating of 66.0.
Will Grier arrives for his preseason debut after sitting down with a sore groin last week. It would take five items to work with offense and would come out early in the fourth quarter after passing 98 yards at 6 out of 10 for a 92.9 rating. Ben DiNucci controlled the game well, completing both pass attempts at 4 yards.
Safety Israel Mukuamu made its presence known with a few good plays against the run in the Chargers’ opening drive before catching quarterback Easton Stick at the Cowboys’ 37-yard line. Dallas couldn’t do much with this gift, and Stick returned to Los Angeles’ next ball with a 41-yard pass to Joshua Palmer. Fortunately, the Cowboys kept the home team out of the finish zone and forced them to settle for a goal from 22 yards.
And then Turpin took center stage. Added to the roster in hopes of bringing some energy to the special teams, he did just that, taking the ensuing kick-off at his own 2-yard line, popping in the middle, cutting to his right and turning on the afterburners, leaving one behind. and into the finish zone for a 98-yard kickoff return and a 7-3 Cowboys lead.
The Chargers were back in action as Stick refrained from rushing and sprinted 25 yards in the last game of the first frame, placing his side on the Cowboys’ 18-yard line as the second quarter began. Two games later, Los Angeles was in the finish zone, a screen to Palmer on the left saw the receiver pierce through the Dallas defense and cross the goal line to bring the Chargers back to the top.
But Dallas promptly bounced back and did it the old-fashioned way—on the ground. In 12 games, a 69-yard drive, the Cowboys rushed the ball nine times. Yes, Rush hooked up with rookie Jalen Tolbert for a 19-yard finish, but Dowdle did the dirty work, carrying the ball for 34 yards seven times, the last one being a 1-yard plunge into the finish zone. Dallas then went for two and Rush shot Jake Ferguson a quick shot for the rookie tight end to take a 15-13 lead.
But the Cowboys were far from finished in the first half—or rather Turpin wasn’t. At 1:12, this time the speedster closed a pun, dodge the first fighter, started left, found a seam on the right, and shot the jets back into the finish zone for an 86-yard return.
And then the Dallas defense sped up when Trysten Hill snatched the ball from Stick during the defensive interception and gave it to the Cowboys at the Chargers’ 15-yard line with 46 seconds remaining in the quarter. This time running back rookie Malik Davis took the honors with his final 8 and 1 yard runs to give the visitors one more point and a 29-10 advantage at the timeout.
With those further down the list and fighting for their NFL lives, the frenetic scoring of the first half not surprisingly slowed. The Chargers managed to walk 59 yards in 13 games late in the quarter, but Dallas went for it at fourth and 3 at the 26-yard line, only to have the Cowboys defense’s corner kick Quandre Mosely shut the door. disrupted a possible first down pass.
As the first quarter ended with a quarterback fight, so did the third quarter, though this time in the Cowboys’ favor, Grier slackened for a 9-yard gain in the fourth and 1. This ultimately led to a 35-yard field goal attempt, with Lirim Hajrullahu splitting the uprights, making the score 32-10.
With that, Grier’s night is over, DiNucci takes over. Relatively speaking, the Cowboys came close enough to allow Brett Maher to attempt a 61-yard field goal, but the kicker’s big leg effort was short-lived.
Perhaps the most exciting game of the fourth resulted in no winnings. In an effort reminiscent of Tony Romo, DiNucci somehow strayed away from a pass maker, lost control of the ball, caught his misfit on a jump, and then completed a short pass to tight end Peyton Hendershot.
The Chargers managed to add another point in the late game and convert the two-point conversion as well, but it was too little, too late. Unimpressed, the Cowboys were content to take the win and return to Dallas, their time in California officially over.