Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Brandon Mora breaks free from Fresno defenders to score a 23-yard touchdown run to give the Stallions an early lead in Friday’s loss.
Coming off a shutout loss, the Madera South Stallions couldn’t change the narrative after allowing 27 points in the fourth quarter in a 34-13 loss to the Fresno Warriors in a non-conference game in Memorial Stadium.
Although the Stallions played inspired football throughout the game, the team’s mental lapse in the second half couldn’t be overcome.
“No offense is the story of our season, so far,” Stallions head coach Matt Johnson said. “Guys fought hard, they kept battling and they made some magical plays to get it back. We had all the momentum going our way and we turned it back over to them and they pretty much closed the game out in two possessions.
“We fought and fought and fought but we had a six-minute letdown and that’s all she wrote.”
A late turnover in the second half put the Stallions in a position they couldn’t climb out of.
“I felt like we had them cracking,” Johnson said. “Then we turned the ball over and they capitalized on that. It was pretty much a downhill slide from there.”
The Stallion defense was solid for a majority of the night. Senior Isaiah Castaneda led the team with three sacks, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt while Matt Manoz captured the “play of the game” with a 65-yard scoop and score to give his team the lead.
The game opened up at a slow pace for both teams. The Stallions kicked off and began the game on defense.
After last week’s lopsided-loss to Golden West, the defense needed to make a statement and they did. The team gang-tackled running back Max Villanueva before breaking up a pass on their first series, forcing a punt.
The same couldn’t be said for the offense.
Joel Galvan started under center and couldn’t get things going early on and for a majority of the night. The Stallions’ first chance came late in the second quarter when Luis Rivera missed a field goal outside the red zone.
The Warriors, on the other hand, used a combination of penalties and run plays in the first half to threaten the Stallion end zone.
The Warriors’ offense had its ups and downs but the Stallions stood strong and held them to a long field goal attempt.
Right when the kick was snapped, Castaneda shot past his defender and blocked the kick. Manoz picked up the loose ball, which gave the Stallions good field position and the momentum.
The offense came out and wasted no time. Galvan danced in the pocket before he floated a perfect pass to the streaking Marcus Castanada, who caught the ball in stride, leaving the cornerback in his dust before he was brought down.
The 40-yard catch-and-run was the first big play in the game. However, the Stallions were forced to punt three plays later.
The action picked up halfway through the third quarter after Warriors quarterback Johnny Gallardo found receiver John L’Heureux II for a 27-yard touchdown. The Warriors faced a tough front seven from the Stallions, but mixed up the play calling and formations to keep their drive alive.
The Stallions countered with Castaneda’s fumble recovery on the Fresno 30-yard line that set up teammate Brandon Mora for a 26-yard touchdown run.
Unfortunately for the Stallions, the Warriors went on a 27-point tear to close out the game. The Warriors scored four rushing touchdowns, the longest by L’Heuerex II for 30 yards in the fourth quarter.
Jaleen Hunt added two touchdowns of four yards and 13 yards in the quarter while Devon King scored on a 17-yard run.
The Warriors capitalized on a weary Stallions defense and finished the game off while keeping the clock running.
The Stallions lost what was a close game until the fourth quarter.
The Stallions suit up next Oct. 6 in a home conference game against San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno.