Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Alex Vaca (72) congratulates Jevon Denis after he scored the first of his three touchdowns in Friday’s double overtime win over Selma.
SELMA — Trailing 14 points heading into halftime, the Madera Coyotes outscored the Selma Bears 21-7 to force overtime, where they prevailed in the second period for a 57-55 non-conference victory..
The last time the Coyotes squared off with Selma occurred in 1942. The score that day saw the Bears walk away with a 2-0 victory. Fast forward to 2018 and the two schools scored more than 100 points.
Explosive would be an understatement. When the Coyotes offense is clicking — from linemen down to the receivers, they are lethal. Quarterback Colt Nelson showed that time and time again Friday night.
The quarterback passed for 325 yards and seven touchdowns against the Bears. Jevon Denis and J.J. Espinoza shouldered the receiving load with a combined 16 catches for 210 yards and five touchdowns.
Defensively, Madera held the Bears to a single second-half touchdown, along with an interception.
However, the Madera defense’s biggest play of the night happened on the last play of overtime when Eric Rey broke through the Selma offensive line to tackle the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage before he could score a two-point conversion to tie the game in the second overtime.
“The mindset was to never give up,” Madera head coach Yosef Fares said. “We wanted to keep fighting and we always talk about adversity. Adversity is an opportunity for growth. I mean there isn’t much for me to say. These boys fought their butts off tonight.
“I was super excited because the kid, Eric Rey, was a kid that didn’t play much growing up and he’s really stepped up his senior year and has become a dominant force for us up front. He didn’t play last week because he was sick and so that hurt us a little bit in the middle. But to come back and make that play, it really speaks to the growth of that kid.”
Although Madera found themselves in a hole throughout the first half, they opened the game on a perfect note. Nelson found Denis for a 21-yard touchdown on the first drive of the game. The Coyotes had a short field after they forced the Bears into a punt on their first drive.
Julian Collier came up with a momentum-boosting block as the Selma punter tried to send the ball downfield. Madera took over on the doorstep of the red zone and punished the Bears.
Selma answered right away with an ensuing 86-yard touchdown return by Aaron Blancas to tie the game at seven.
The Coyotes’ chance later came in the first quarter after Nelson found Denis, once again, for a touchdown. Madera drove nine plays for 68 yards to take the lead. Espinoza shouldered the load with three catches and 30 yards before Denis caught a 15-yard pass for the touchdown
Madera led 14-7 until the Bears answered after Adam Rodriguez scored from four yards out to tie the game.
However, the Coyotes took the lead, once again, as the second quarter started. Nelson hit Marco Lopez deep for 30 yards to set up Jacob Garcia’s three-yard touchdown.
Although Madera had the lead, the Coyotes fell prey to the Bears. Selma scored 21 unanswered points to take a 35-21 lead. A 12- and 15-yard touchdown run from Brian Ching and a one-yard plunge from Rodriguez put the Bears up 35-21 at the half.
Nelson and Joziah Velazquez marched the Coyotes down the field in eight plays and converted a fourth and goal after Nelson hooked up with Velazquez for a two-yard touchdown and trailed 35-28.
Madera’s defense stopped the Bears and forced a punt. Madera’s offense took over in good field position and in two plays, Velazquez was celebrating his second touchdown in the end zone. Nelson found Velasquez streaking down the field for a 29-yard touchdown. Madera tied the game at 35 and took the momentum back from the Bears.
The Coyotes defense began to look like the squad that helped them race out to a 3-0 record after they held the Selma offense to a single touchdown in the second half. Madera’s only hiccup came after a 45-touchdown run by Blancas.
Madera’s offense, on the other hand, scored 21 points in the second half. Madera had to win the second half to get back into the game and that’s what they did.
After Velasquez scored his second touchdown to open the fourth quarter, the Coyotes sealed their comeback after Nelson found Espinoza for a 40-yard touchdown. Espinoza escaped his defender before Nelson rifled a ball into his path. They tied the game at 42 and sent the game into overtime.
Both teams took turns inside the 40-yard line.
Selma took the first shot and scored on a 15-yard touchdown to take the lead in overtime. The Coyotes wouldn’t be outdone. Nelson found Espinoza in a tight window inside the end zone to tie the game at 49.
Now that both teams scored in the first overtime, they both had to go for a two-point conversion on the next sequence.
For Madera, that wasn’t an issue. The Coyotes went straight to work in the second overtime when Nelson found Denis for his third touchdown of the night. Madera had to go for two and Velasquez found himself open in the endzone for the score and a 57-49 lead.
Selma had all the pressure its its shoulders. Not only did the Bears need a touchdown, but they also needed a two-point conversion.
Rodriguez got the call and marched the Bears down to the goal line where he scored a touchdown to cut the lead to two points.
With the game riding on a two-point conversion, the Bears called a run to the right side, but didn’t get much because Rey blew through the Bears offensive line and snuffed out the run before it got going.