Mistakes help Knights beat Stallions
Wendy Alexander/The Madera tribune
Madera South’s Erik Cervantez stiff arms a Bullard defender to score the Stallions’ lone touchdown Thursday.
In order for the Madera South Stallions football team to even sniff an upset over Div. I Bullard-Fresno, they must play an almost perfect game.
However, the Stallions committed two first quarter turnovers and saw themselves in a 21-0 deficit before they could calm down. The Stallions had some positive moments, but it wasn’t nearly enough in a 35-7 loss Thursday at Madera South.
“If you’re going to beat a Div. I heavyweight, you have to tackle and play almost perfect,” head coach Matt Johnson said. “You can’t turn the ball over and give them stuff. We gave them 21 points in the first quarter.
“Our job as coaches is to stop the trend. That’s been a trend of ours to shoot ourselves in the foot. Even against the teams we beat, we would drive, then commit a stupid penalty or turn the ball over. We have to control the rock. That’s our M.O.”
While there were some bright spots for the Stallions, there were more bright spots for the Knights.
After jumping to a three touchdown first quarter lead, the Knights scored on two of their three second half possessions to put the game away. The third possession ended the game.
The Knights gained 458 yards of total offense, including 311 in the air. They earned 21 first downs as opposed to Madera South’s 12. They were also 6-of-9 on third down and on two of the three occasions they didn’t convert, they did on fourth down.
“We have some really good potential,” Johnson said. “If we go south of this, it will be horrible in the playoffs. If we go north and clean this up, we are going to be heck to deal with in the playoffs.”
The Madera South rushing attack showed it can run on any team. The Stallions combined to rush for 204 yards at a clip of five yards per rush. Erik Cervantez rushed for 103 yards and scored Madera South’s lone touchdown. Angelo Moreno added 69 yards.
“I expect we will be able to do that against just about anybody,” Johnson said.
The Knights took the opening kickoff and drove 65 yards on six plays to score the first touchdown of the game on an eight-yard touchdown run on a sweep to the right.
The Stallions moved the ball to the Knights’ 34-yard line before a fumble in the backfield turned the ball over to the Knights.
Bullard scored four plays later on a 34-yard touchdown pass.
Two plays later, the Stallions fumbled and the Knights took over on the Stallions’ 48-yard line. The Knights found the end zone six plays later on a 33-yard touchdown pass on third-and-16 to lead 21-0 with 16 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Stallions moved the ball into Bullard territory after a 10-yard run by Cervantez and an eight yard run by Moreno for a first down.
However, the Stallions couldn’t get anything else going and turned the ball over on downs.
The Madera South defense stepped up to force a three-and-out with the help of a holding penalty. Bryce Walters and Sergio Garcia combined for stops and Bullard threw incomplete on third down.
Madera South started its lone scoring drive after the Bullard punt. Jacob Edwards hit Jackson Smith for a gain of 13. Moreno blasted through for 13 to the 27-yard line.
Smith gained 11 yards to the 14-yard line.
Three plays later, Cervantez scored from 12 yards out on an inside counter for a 21-7 lead with 1:04 left in the half.
Bullard tried to get on the scoreboard with time running out in the first half, but Rudy Valdez picked off a pass to end the half.
Madera South got a 28-yard gain from Cervantez on its opening drive of the second half, but turned the ball over on downs.
The Knights drove 74 yards on 13 plays to open a 28-7 lead.
After a Madera South punt, the Knights went on a nine-play, 94-yard drive for the final points of the night.