Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera receiver Marco Lopez tries to elude a tackler after making a fourth quarter catch during Thursday’s loss to the Selma Bears.
After three straight victories, the Madera Coyotes football team was looking for another victory to head into the bye week with an impressive 4-1 record.
However, the Selma Bears had other plans and attacked the Coyotes in a 42-35 victory Thursday in Memorial Stadium on Lee DaSilva Field.
The Coyotes turned the ball over three times and the Bears turned the first into a fumble return for a touchdown and the final one closed out the victory.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” head coach Kenny Paolinelli said. “You can’t expect to win games when you turn the ball over that many times. We know that. When we executed, we moved the ball, pretty much, up and down the field with ease. When you get down like that against a team like that caliber and turn the ball over, it’s not a recipe for success.”
However, the Coyotes showed some mettle by outscoring the Bears 28-22 in the second half. Madera allowed Selma to jump to a three touchdown lead, but twice got the game within a touchdown before time ran out.
“The biggest thing was recognizing they were stacking up the box to take away the run game from us,” Paolinelli said. “They wanted us to prove we can throw the ball down the field. We came out gunning, which was nothing different than what we expected. Depending on the offensive set we were in, we knew what coverage they were going to be in. It was just going to be how we were going to attack it and our quarterback giving our guys a chance to make plays. At some point, you have to give our guys an opportunity to make plays.”
Isaiah Martinez threw for 195 yards on 16-of-23 passing. He threw two touchdowns, but threw two interceptions. He also rushed for 61 yards and scored a touchdown.
Zachary Roque led the Coyotes with six catches and scored a touchdown. Marco Lopez caught four passes for 80 yards and also scored a touchdown.
However, Madera couldn’t stop the Selma offense. The Bears gained 383 yards of total offense, including 264 yards on the ground, averaging more than five yards per carry. They were also seven-of-10 on third downs and two-of-two on fourth downs.
“That offense is momentum based,” Paolinelli said. “They just start chipping away at you and gas you out. It doesn’t help we have three or four starters who are sick as dogs trying to help the team. We have to play better.”
The Coyotes will get a week off and prepare to open Count/Metro Athletic Conference play on Oct. 4 against the Sanger Apaches on Homecoming.
“We have to get healthy for league,” Paolinelli said. “We’re at the base of the mountain and it’s a tough climb for league. We’re going to put our gear on to climb that mountain and try to compete every week.”
On the second play of the game, Selma forced a fumble, scooped it up and ran it into the end zone for a 20-yard fumble return for a 6-0 lead just 46 seconds into the game.
Two plays later, Martinez threw an interception to give the Bears the ball at the Coyotes’ 24-yard line. However, Joel Spivey forced a fumble and Ricky Garcia recovered it for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes went on a 12-play, 54-yard drive that stalled at the Selma 16-yard line. Richard Lozano-Cruz’s 33-yard field goal was missed.
Keyed by a fake punt and a first down run on fourth-and-two, Selma completed a 15-play, 80-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run. The pint after failed for a 12-0 lead.
After the Coyotes went three-and-out, Selma went on a nine-play, 54-yard drive to open a 20-0 lead after a one-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion.
After a trade in punts, the Coyotes took over at their own 42-yard line. Martinez hit Lopez for a 30-yard gain after Martinez scrambled out of trouble to find Lopez to the Selma 12-yard line.
Jeremiah Sanchez carried to the five and then finished the quick drive with a touchdown with 1:01 left in the first half. Lozano-Cruz’s extra point cut the Selma lead to 20-7.
Selma took the second half kickoff and ate up half the third quarter for an 11-play, 79-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 24-yard touchdown run for a 26-7 lead.
Madera came back with an 11-play, 67-yard drive to answer the Bears’ score. Martinez scrambled for 13 on third-and-10 for a key first down and then ran for five yards on fourth-and-two to keep the drive going.
Martinez finished the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run. After Lozano-Cruz’s extra point, Madera trailed 26-14.
Selma responded with an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 47-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Zach Zarate a minute into the fourth quarter to open a 34-14 lead.
Madera’s Jonathan Ramirez, in his first football game of the season, took a bouncing kickoff at the 15-yard line. He went to his left, eluded two tacklers, broke two more tackles and scampered 85 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point cut the lead to 13 with 10:35 left in the game, 15 seconds after Selma’s touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lozano-Cruz tried an onside kick. He hit a Selma up-man and Spivey recovered for a Coyotes’ possession.
Martinez led the Coyotes on a five-play, 52-yard touchdown drive. He completed the drive with a 20-yard pass up the middle to Roque. Roque went up and snagged the ball out of the air above two Selma defenders and ran into the end zone to cut the Bears’ lead to 34-28.
Lozano-Cruz tried another onside kick, this time hitting a high kick down the left sideline. The ball went just out of the reach of a Coyotes’ hands and the Bears recovered.
Two plays later, Juju Loera intercepted an underthrown ball and the Coyotes had life.
Unfortunately, two plays later, Martinez, trying to hit Roque on a slant, threw into the arms of a leaping defensive lineman for an interception and Selma took over.
“It’s a small coaching point we’ve been talking about since January,” Paolinelli said. The moment we don’t execute that, it can shoot you in the foot. Attention to detail is what we’ve been preaching all week. If we don’t pay attention to the small detail like letting him clear the line before we make that throw and it’s wide open, that’s what’s going to happen to us.”
The Bears then put the game out of reach with an eight-play, 62-yard drive, all running plays, that ended with a 15-yard touchdown run to open a two touchdown lead with three minutes left in the game.
Madera closed the game with another scoring drive. Martinez hit Roque for a 13-yard gain on fourth-and-11. He then found Lopez for a 27-yard gain and an 11-yard gain. Two plays later, Martinez found Lopez, again, for a 12-yard touchdown with 1:12 left in the game.
Selma got the ensuing kickoff and ran out the clock to secure the victory.