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Offensive explosion not enough for Coyotes

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Madera receiver J’Sean Gonzales caught eight passes for 169 yards , both career highs while scoring three touchdowns in Friday’s playoff loss to Caruthers.


The Madera Coyotes football team played one of its best games of the season in Friday’s Div. IV first-round Central Section playoff game against the Caruthers Blue Raiders.

However, it was not enough to counter Caruthers’ star running back Hunter Babb, who accounted for 297 of Caruthers’ 391 yards of total offense.

The 14th-seeded Coyotes gained 480 yards of total offense, including a career day from sophomore quarterback Joel Arellano, but the No. 3 seeded Caruthers did just enough for a 49-35 victory over the Coyotes.

Arellano threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns. However, he also threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdowns.

“This was Joel’s best performance of the year,” head coach Kenny Paolinelli said. “Two of the interceptions were miscommunications from the receivers.”

Senior J’Sean Gonzales caught eight passes for 169 yards and scored three touchdowns, including an 83-yarder. Izaak lopez caught five passes for 93 yards and Michael Pedro caught a pass for 48 yards.

Junior running back Daniel Mendez rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown.

“We were led by young guys all year,” Paolinelli said. “They continued to grow and get better. That’s promising heading into the offseason. Those guys have grown and matured. We have guys everywhere that can make plays. It’s very promising for our future.”

The focal point for the Madera defense was stopping and containing Caruthers’ Babb. The Coyotes had a tough time in the first half, but rallied in the second half to keep him in check. Babb’s first 16 carries went for 213 yards, but his last 13 carries went for just 18 yards.

“That kids is a really good player,” Paolinelli said. “He was the focal point to stop him. We made some adjustments into halftime and that helped us out in the second half.”

Caruthers took the early lead with a quick three-play drive that ended with an eight-yard run from Babb after a 34-yard kickoff return for a 7-0 lead.

Madera drove inside the Caruthers 30-yard line, but an interception stopped the drive.

The Coyotes forced a four-and-out, and then went on their longest drive of the game — 14 plays for 57 yards. Julius Torres started the drive with an 18-yard reception. Lopez caught a 22-yard pass to get the ball inside the 20-yard line.

A sack pushed the ball back to the 29-yard line, but Gonzales carried the ball for a 14-yard gain. Mendez gained eight on fourth down.

It took the Coyotes four plays to get into the end zone from there with Arellano hitting Gonzales on a fade pattern for the five-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven.

Babb then scored on touchdown runs of 51, 28 and two yards for a 29-7 halftime lead.

The Coyotes came out of the halftime break determined to get back into the game. Gonzales and Ty Davis caught passes for 21 yards to move the ball inside Caruthers’ territory.

Mendez ripped off a 27-yard gain on third-and-10 to move the ball to the Caruthers’ 16-yard line. Three plays later, Mendez scored from 10 yards out to cut the lead to 21-14.

Caruthers came back with Babb carrying the ball seven times for 61 yards of the 63-yard drive (penalties moved the ball back twice), including a one-yard touchdown run for a 29-14 lead.

It took the Coyotes just four plays to answer. After Mendez carried three times for 28 yards, Arellano found Gonzales for a 29-yard touchdown pass to get within a score.

Caruthers came right back with a three-play drive. After two Babb runs, Babb caught a screen pass and scored from 45 yards out to get a two-score lead.

The Coyotes came back, again, with Gonzales running past the Blue Raiders’ defensive backs and Arellano throwing a perfect pass for an 83-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 43-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

With the momentum, Madera forced the Blue Raiders to go backwards and punt on fourth-and-32. However, Arellano was picked off three plays into the next drive and Caruthers returned it for a 44-yard touchdown to take a 49-28 lead.

The Coyotes answered when Arellano hit Pedro with a first down pass on fourth-and-two. Pedro eluded the initial defender and outran the rest of the defense for a 48-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 49-35.

The Coyotes got the ball back when the Madera defense forced a fourth-and-22 punt.

Gonzales started the drive with a 35-yard reception and the Coyotes moved the ball inside the 10-yard line, but a fourth down pass to a wide open receiver in the end zone was short and the Blue Raiders took over.

Caruthers earned three first downs and ran out the clock for the playoff win.



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