Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera receiver J.J. Espinoza is congratulated by Alex Carillo (56) and Cristoval Garcia (59) after scoring a touchdown against Edison on Friday.
Coming off a close loss last week to the Sanger Apaches, the Madera Coyotes football team was unable to right the ship after the Edison Tigers rallied for 41 second-half points to upend the Coyotes, 62-48, in a County/Metro Athletic Conference clash at Memorial Stadium.
“I was very excited the way our kids performed in the first half,” Madera head coach Yosef Fares said. “The second half, we didn’t live up to the standard that we set forth — the expectations of our new culture within our football program. A lot of it came down to not executing the little things right and when you get into a big-time game like that and you’re trying to pull off a big-time upset, you have to focus on the little things that got you there.
“We kind of let the moment get too big for us. A lot of missed tackles, missed assignments and we never got into a rhythm offensively. It was a collective of all three phases of the game not executing the way we want to.”
Madera raced out to a 13-0 lead early behind Jacob Garcia and Joziah Velasquez who each on touchdowns of 50 yards or more. Garcia took a handoff and outran half the field for the opening score, before Velasquez hooked up with Colt Nelson for a 59-yard pass.
The Coyotes looked to be the better team throughout the first half, putting up 33 points. However, things changed when Edison’s McKinley Lee III got going.
The Tigers’ tailback tallied 365 yards of offense, alone, to go with his game-leading four touchdowns. Lee rushed for 300 yards and he caught a 65-yard screen pass for a touchdown.
Although the Coyotes did an admirable job of containing Lee in the first half, they were powerless to stop his big-play ability.
The senior Tiger tailback scored on a 65-yard screen pass, and later followed with a 95-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The Edison standout showed the rest of the division that he is one of the top players in the valley with another scintillating performance.
Madera, on the other hand, put up more than 45 points in the loss and looked like a contender in the CMAC. Despite Edison’s 3-3 record coming into the contest, they had talent all over the field and for the first half of Friday’s contest, the Coyotes were easily the best unit on the field.
Velasquez and J.J. Espinoza combined to equal Lee with four touchdowns. Velasquez was all over the field. Whether in the backfield or spread out as a receiver, his ability to get open and find the right gaps proved costly for the Tigers. Espinoza on the other hand is a known threat to any defense. Like Fares said, it doesn’t matter who the Coyotes are playing, their offense is a handful for anybody.
“For being in the third year of the program, our biggest push this year was competing in the CMAC and winning some games that haven’t been won before,” Fares said. “The last two games, we let slip away from us, but there is no question the team on the other side of the field knew that we are for real and we know what we’re capable of. If we can play at that high level for four quarters, we had an opportunity to win both games. We were in the exact positions we wanted to be for both games and a few things here and there took it the other way out of our hands.”
After a hot start to the game, Madera built a 13-point lead before the Tigers answered with a Jamison Silva touchdown pass to end the first quarter.
Madera soon answered with a six-yard score to Velasquez. Three Coyote receivers were bunched out wide, forcing the Tigers into a tough defensive assignment. Nelson collected the snap and instantly found Velasquez all alone, darting into the end zone.
Madera built a 20-7 lead before the Edison’s tailback took over the game. Lee scored his first touchdown from 10 yards out before following Espinoza’s seven-yard touchdown with his second of the second quarter from 17 yards out.
Edison trailed 27-21 after Lee ’s efforts, but that was short lived. Espinoza scored his second touchdown of the night at the end of the first half. Madera found themselves just inside the 10-yard line with goal to go.
Nelson snapped the ball, Espinoza beat the Tiger safety with a slant inside and the Coyotes had another touchdown. Espinoza has proven time and time again he can’t be covered by a single defender.
The Coyotes entered halftime leading 33-21 and that was the last time they would find themselves in a comfortable spot in the game.
Edison came out of the break with their heads on fire. The scored 21 points in the third quarter — a majority coming form the legs of Lee. The senior had more than 150 yards of offense in the quarter, including touchdowns of 65 and 95 yards.
Meanwhile, Madera couldn’t find a rhythm on either side of the ball.
Nelson later found Jevon Denis for a 91-yard score to bring Madera back to a 40-35 lead, but that was short lived. Edison tacked on four straight touchdowns to effectively end the game.
Nelson found Marco Lopez for a six-yard pass in the last minutes of the game, but it was too late for the home team.
Although 0-2 in the CMAC in 2018, Madera has their eyes set on redemption with the Bullard-Fresno Knights next on the schedule at the end of the week.
“They’ve had a rough season, but they’ve played a difficult schedule,” Fares said on Bullard. “They’re still got guys that are difference makers. We played Lee this week and now we have to stop Marcus Fulcher the running back, who I think is better than Lee . That’s never an easy task, so we have to play sound football and try to tackle. He’s a back that will wear you out.