First half drops Coyotes from undefeated ranks

The first half didn’t go any where near what Madera Coyotes football head coach Yosef Fares could have thought in the Governor’s Hat battle with the Merced Bears.

However, the Coyotes regrouped at halftime and scored 28 second half points at Golden Valley High School’s Memorial Stadium in Merced. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome the 42 point first half by the Bears.

Merced scored touchdowns on six of its seven first half drives to take the lead. Meanwhile, the Coyotes couldn’t get anything going in the first quarter. They went on four drives and didn’t accumulate a yard of offense.

Despite a touchdown drive in the second quarter, Madera amassed just 115 yards of total offense in the first half. Meanwhile, Merced had a game’s worth of offense in the first half. They gained 373 yards of offense, including 208 on the ground.

Madera rebounded in the second half and accumulated 327 yards of total offense with scoring drives on four straight possessions. However, Merced finished with 614 yards of total offense balancing 335 passing yards with 279 rushing yards.

Madera quarterback Colt Nelson was 27-of-50 for 379 yards passing and threw five touchdowns. However, he threw an interception on the last possession of the game and an incompletion on the last play of the second half, both in the end zone.

J.J. Espinoza, Joziah Velasquez and Jevon Denis each gained more than 100 receiving yards. Espinoza caught five passes for 118 yards and a touchdown, all in the second half Velasquez caught 10 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

Denis sparked the second half with long pass plays. He caught four passes for 112 yards, torching his one-on-one opponent in the third quarter. He caught a touchdown pass and averaged 28 yards per reception. Angel Guizar also scored a receiving touchdown.

Madera’s first four possessions ended in punts and did not net a yard.

However, Merced scored touchdowns three times in the first quarter. After an eight-play, 68-yard drive, the Bears had a two-play, 20-yard touchdown drive and a one-play, 56-yard touchdown run. In addition, Merced completed a three-play, 48-yard drive with a 35-yard touchdown run on the first play of the third quarter.

However, the Coyotes came back with an 11-play, 52-yard drive in the second quarter. The Coyotes methodically made their way down the field with just one play of 10-yards or more. Nelson hit Guizar out the backfield for a five-yard touchdown pass with 8:09 left in the second half.

Merced countered with two more touchdowns before the end of the first half to open a 42-7 lead.

Nelson drove the Coyotes down the field at the end of the half. A 21-yard pass play to Marco Lopez and a 32-yard pass play to Velasquez moved the ball to the eight-yard line. On the final play of the second quarter, Nelson was pressured and tried to hit Lopez in the end zone, but the ball hit the turf for a 42-7 halftime deficit.

Nelson hit Denis for a 39-yard pass play on the second possession of the second half to start the offense. Two plays later, he hit Denis again for a 38-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 42-14.

After a Merced punt, Nelson hit Denis, again, for a 35-yard gain. With the defense concentrated on Denis, Nelson hit Espinoza cutting across the field. Espinoza then cut it up the field and into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown with 32 seconds left in the third quarter to cut Merced’s lead to 42-21 after Brisa Meza’s third of five extra points.

Merced answered back with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Ezra Morales, who caught six passes for 147 yards.

Nelson answered again with Espinoza catching a 13-yard and a 24-yard pass. After a Merced personal foul penalty, Nelson found Velasquez for a five-yard touchdown catch. Merced was penalized 17 times for 135 yards and nullified many big plays.

Merced’s Desmond Thompson, who rushed for 107 yards, scored on a four-yard touchdown run for a 56-38 lead with 7:06 left in the game.

Nelson found Velasquez for a 12-yard touchdown run on the next drive to cut the lead to 21.

However, Merced ended the scoring with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Stewart for a 63-35 victory and cap a quarter when both teams combined for 35 points.

Madera next plays at Selma on Friday.