Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera receiver K’Veon Jones tries to escape a Sanger tackle during Friday’s loss to the Apaches. Jones scored both of Madera’s touchdowns.
The Madera Coyotes’ losing streak continued after they were beaten by the Sanger Apaches, 35-14, in a County/Metro Athletic Conference game at Lee DaSilva Field.
Led by dual-threat athlete Jalen Cropper, the Apaches rode a 21-point first half to take a conference victory on the road. Cropper rushed for a game high 180 yards along with 65 yards passing.
“Jalen Cropper is probably one of the best players in the valley,” Madera head coach Yosef Fares said. “That kid is a special kid. That was the challenge this week, stopping him and simulating him. Jerry Hernandez did a great job in practice simulating him.”
Although Colt Nelson had more than 280 yards passing and two touchdowns, the Coyotes couldn’t come back from the 21-point deficit.
The Apaches took hold of the game from the onset. After stalling on their first possession, the Apaches responded with a 10-play drive, which featured the Apaches tough run game.
The Apaches marched down the field and capped it off with a Morice Norris touchdown.
Cropper, a highly-rated collegiate prospect, showcased his talent in the second quarter with a 50-yard touchdown run after he broke multiple Coyote tackles to stay on his feet, dancing to pay dirt.
His teammate Orlando Douglas rushed 10 times for 43 yards, but punched in a nine-yard touchdown to cap off a 21-0 run heading into halftime.
After halftime, the Coyotes came out with purpose. Fares said he had a message for his team at the break.
“We just talked about how we’re starting to build this program in the right direction,” Fares said. “And tonight we took the right step. We’ve talked about in these big time games we need to play four quarters. We wanted to finish the third and fourth quarter tonight.”
Down 21 points to open the second half, the Coyotes responded with a seven-play drive that culminated in a seven-yard touchdown pass to K’Veon Jones.
Joseph Saldivar shouldered the load with four carries for 25 yards, which set up the Coyotes first touchdown of the game.
The Coyotes trailed 21-7 after the opening drive of the half.
Although the Coyotes had the momentum in the second half, the Apaches stuck to the ground game and generated two more touchdowns.
Douglas had his number called again and the tailback punched it in from two yards out. The Coyotes trenches fought all night but could withstand the steady diet of dives and power runs by the visitors.
The Coyotes got back on track in the last frame of the matchup after Nelson hooked up with Jerry Hernandez for 35 yards before he found Jones for his second score of the night from 21 yards out.
Hernandez flew down the field, setting up the Coyotes in great field position before Jones brought in a reception for six.
The Apaches ran the clock out for a 35-14 victory.
Next up for the Coyotes is a matchup with next-door neighbors Madera South where conference seeding and, more importantly pride, is on the line.
“We just got to play Coyote football,” Fares said. “We’ve got to trust the process and trust what we do.”