The Madera South Stallions scored touchdowns on their first three drives of the game and never looked back in a 63-27 victory to advance to the quarterfinals of the Central Section Div. IV playoffs.
“I don’t worry about getting up early,” Madera South head coach Dane Cook said. “It’s nice to have that lead. Our offense is becoming really proficient. We just have to shore up our defense and special teams. We kind of let up. We still have to clean up some stuff.”
In total, the Stallions scored on nine of their 11 drives and gained 533 yards of total offense, including 300 on the ground.
“Our line blocked well,” Cook said. “Coach Anthony Gallegos does a good job with them. It’s good to be clicking. These guys are getting better each week.”
“We can’t simulate what they have,” Liberty head coach Mike Nolte said. “We don’t have those kind of players. We can’t simulate the quarterback running around and their speed. Our quarterback is playing defense and there’s really nobody else to toss it around like he does. It’s just hard to simulate what they do at practice. We can line them up and tell them what will happen. When you’re going at it full speed, it’s a big difference.”
Quarterback Jonah Johnson accounted 351 yards of offense. He threw for three touchdowns and ran one in. He also averaged nine yards per rush and gained 118 yards on the ground.
“He’s having a really good year,” Cook said. “A coach from Fresno State was here so I’m happy for him to put on a show.”
McClain also gained 177 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns, including an 80-yard run. He averaged 19.7 yards per carry. Jacob Kirkpatrick caught four passes for 106 yards and Mathew Manoz had two receptions for 63 yards and both went for touchdowns.
“We had a tough time slowing them down on defense,” Nolte said. “It’s just one of those things where you’re either ready to play or not ready to play. I thought scheme-wise, we were, but they took advantage of what we didn’t do right.”
Liberty gained 314 yards on offense and the Hawks were led by Kaleb Roth. The junior recorded his fifth straight 100 yard game (113 yards) and eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the season. He also scored two touchdowns in the loss.
Next for the Stallions is another rematch with a team that used to be on their schedule — No. 2 Chowchilla. The Redskins defeated the Stallions 51-28 in last year’s season opener.
“Chowchilla is a good team,” Cook said. “Anything can happen. We just have to put everything together. It’s going to be a war.”
After a 13-yard Liberty punt, Madera South took over with good field position. Johnson hit Jaylan Neal for a 33-yard diving catch to put the ball at the six-yard line. Two plays later, McClain swept to his left and found the end zone for a 7-0 lead with seven minutes left in the first quarter.
After another Liberty punt, McClain raced around the left side for a 47-yard gain to put the ball on the three. McClain got the call again and scored from three yards out for a 14-0 lead with 4:33 left in the game after Danny Joya made the second of his nine extra points.
On Liberty’s next series, quarterback Markie Brandt was forced to scramble and fumbed. Jared Eller recovered for a first down at the Liberty 41-yard line.
McClain then carried the ball inside the 10-yard line with a 35-yard run. Two plays later, Johnson carred the ball into the end zone for a 21-0 lead with 2:19 left in the first quarter.
After a trade in punts, the Liberty offense started driving. A bad snap over Joya’s head led to a two-yard net punt and Liberty took over in Madera South territory. Kaleb roth gained seven and 10 yards to the 23-yard line. Wyatt and Kaleb Roth each carried for six yards to the 11. On fourth-and-four from the five, Brandt rolled to his right and found a small hole to fire a completion to Kaleb Roth in the end zone before heading out of bounds. Roth hauled in the pass for Liberty’s first score of the game with 6:48 left in the quarter.
However, Madera South struck back quickly. On second-and-11, Johnson hit Kirkpatrick on a quick slant. Kirkpatrick spun away from a defender and split the Liberty secondary for a 52-yard catch-and-run to give the Stallions a 28-6 lead.
Two plays into Liberty’s next drive, Brandt was intercepted by Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick returned the kick for a 39-yard pick-six, but the ball was moved back becuase of a holding penalty. Three plays later, Johnson, under pressure, found Manoz, who made a shoestring catch at the five, for a seven-yard touchdown and a 35-6 lead.
After another Liberty fumble, recovered by Neal, the Stallions added to their first half lead. Johnson lofted a pass down the left sideline. The ball looked to be overthrown past two Stallions receivers.
However, the ball was meant for Manoz, running the wheel route down the sideline. Manoz made a one-handed grab on the slightly underthrown ball and sprinted the rest of the way for a 56-yard touchdown and a 42-6 halftime lead.
Madera South opened the second half with their longest sustained dive of the game, going 72 yards on 11 plays, capped by a Kirkpatrick touchdown run.
Liberty answered with is longest drive of the game, a nine-play,
56-yard drive, ending with a Brandt one-yard run.
On the next play, McClain raced around the right end for an 80-yard touchdown run for a 56-13 lead with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
After a 40-yard kickoff return from Wyatt Johnson, Wyatt Roth ended Liberty’s next drive with a 33-yard touchdown run.
The Hawks scored on a 33-yard touchdown run from Kaleb Roth for a 56-27 Stallions lead.
Manoz answered the run with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that featured numerous broken tackles for the final score.