Madera running back Dakota Torres looks for room to run in Friday’s home opener against Hanford. Torres scored Madera’s lone touchdown. (Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune)
The Madera Coyotes are still looking for a first win of the season after a home opening loss to the Hanford Bullpups in Memorial Stadium.
The Bullpups came into Friday night’s contest without their star quarterback, senior Ryan Johnson who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Hanford’s season-opening loss at Buchanan.
After an 0-2 start, the Coyotes played a brilliant first half on defense, but were unable to score late in the game and dropped to 0-3 after a 27-7 loss Friday night.
Madera was unable to take advantage of Hanford penalties and turnovers leaving the team winless.
Head coach Yosef Fares knew that his team was in position to get their first victory of the season.
“We had a great opportunity to win the game,” Fares said. “We executed our game plan for three quarters. But, we have got to finish these games, especially with our schedule. Nothing will be given to us; we have got to earn it.”
Without a win on his resume, Fares also understands that playing a difficult schedule is helping his team is improve each week.
“I’m very proud of this team and they’ve taken a turn in the right direction,” Fares said. “We did not earn a win, but we earned a lot of respect for each other.”
On the opening possession, Madera was able to move the chains with their signature run game behind multiple rushers. Junior quarterback Jerry Hernandez and senior running back Eric Escobar moved the ball effectively and converted on third down after a 12-yard run.
Even with early success, Madera was forced into a fourth down situation and turned the ball over on downs after Hernandez was tripped up before he could gain another first down. Hernandez carried the ball 14 times for 59 yards and completed three passes for 80 yards.
The Coyote’s first defensive series was close to perfect as senior Justin Landero hit the quarterback for a sack and recorded a stop behind the line of scrimmage on the following play.
After three consecutive tackles for a loss, Madera’s offense was able to control the tempo and had possession for eight minutes of the opening quarter.
On Madera’s second possession of the game, senior running back, Josh McMillon converted on fourth down and pushed the offense into red zone. McMillon ended the night with 11 carries for 31 yards.
With 8:47 left in the first half, Madera running back Dakota Torres found the end zone from nine yards out after bouncing off two Bullpup defenders, giving the Coyotes a 7-0 lead. Torres helped the Coyote passing game by catching two passes for 70 yards.
In an attempt to respond, Hanford quickly got the ball into the hands of its speedy playmaker, wide receiver Jordan Perryman. Perryman gained positive yards and pushed the Coyote’s defense back on their heels before Hanford running back Will Pepe got loose in the flats and went 46 yards to tie the game. Pepe finished with eight carries for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Tied at seven with five minutes left in the half, Hernandez handed off to Escobar, who saw an opening and cut upfield before he took a brutal hit to his lower right side that left him down for more than three minutes.
With Memorial Stadium now silent and the status of Escobar uncertain, the Coyote rushing attack was vulnerable. McMillon filled in for Escobar and had success rushing to the right and up the middle of Hanford’s defensive line.
Two series later, Escobar returned to punt the ball back to the Bullpups.
Hanford running back Leonardo Glass broke two tackles on the punt return and ran ball downfield before two Coyotes saved a touchdown to end the first half tied at seven.
Madera was playing its best defense of the season and allowed one long scoring play. As the second half began, the defense carried the momentum from the first two quarters.
Junior defensive back George Sibley and senior defensive back Raelon Hill helped thwart a Hanford drive with Hill making an open-field tackle and Sibley deflecting a pass on fourth down.
On offense, Madera continued to hand the ball to McMillon before opening up to pass in an attempt to get into scoring position. Hernandez was unable to find his receivers and began the first drive of the half with three incompletions. However, Hanford committed a third-down penalty and a fourth-down pass interference penalty helped Madera keep possession. Yet, the Coyotes were unable to capitalize off the Bullpups’ mistakes and gave the ball back to Hanford with 4:44 left in the third quarter.
The Coyote’s were unable to bring down Perryman, who showed off his speed on back-to-back plays. He went untouched up the sideline to put Hanford in front, 13-7. Perryman finished with 203 yards on just nine carries.
On the ensuing Coyote possession, the offense stalled and was forced to punt. Sibley made a terrific special teams play and got his hand on the ball after Perryman muffed the punt. Madera had another opportunity to score points off a Hanford mistake.
The recurring theme of Friday’s game would haunt Madera the entire second half as the Coyotes could not take advantage of penalties and turnovers.
Only down six and in the red zone, Hernandez took a hit and was brought down out of scoring position on a costly third-down loss of yards. The next play the ball was snapped well out of reach for Hernandez and the ball was scooped up by the Bullpups.
With plenty of time left to regain control, Madera’s defense came up with a timely interception. Again, the Coyotes were thrown a bone.
Hanford’s quarterback Theron Dutra attempted a deep pass intended for Perryman that was brought down by Hill to give his team another shot to score on offense.
After the Hill interception, Madera was unable to do anything, except for punt the ball away twice more and rely on defense.
Down 13-7 with 8:17 left, Perryman ran a sweep to the right side, going 44 yards for a touchdown.
After allowing only 26 yards from Perryman in the first half, he single-handedly put the game out of reach after with 177 second half yards.
The Madera offense was locked in its own territory and unable to convert two fourth-downs on two possessions before another Hanford touchdown run, this one by Glass with 2:55 left in the game.
The Coyotes next game is Friday Golden Valley High School in Merced against the Merced Bears at 7:30 p.m.