Toros win first home game in school history
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Matilda Torres quarterback Jose Soriano runs past a Stone Ridge Christian defender down the sideline during Friday’s victory — the first home win in school history.
After securing the first win in program history against Hoover-Fresno a few weeks ago, the Matilda Torres football team continued making history after opening its first home game in school history with a 27-21 victory over Stone Ridge Christian-Merced.
The Toros, under Joseph Marquez’s leadership, have a group of young and inexperienced players at the varsity level, but the effort and toughness shown on the field would remind you of a veteran squad.
“It’s really big for us to instill a successful winning tradition. It’s not all about wins and losses for us at this point, but it’s an added bonus to get game experience,” Marquez said. “My players are very young. We have a couple juniors, but none of them have varsity game experience. So this is them learning how to play in these types of games.”
Led by quarterback Jose Soriano, the Toros show a balanced attack that features a bruising running back and explosive receivers.
The running attack of Soriano, Tyrese Howard and Amani Sua wore down Stone Ridge’s front. That allowed Soriano to have open passing lanes for Angel Pereida, Jesus Moreno, Moses Soto-Mesa and others. Moreno finished with 130 yards while Pereida finished with 74 yards. Pereida also added an interception in the second quarter.
Soriano completed 13 of 20 passes for 288 yards to go along with three touchdowns. Soriano’s night included an 81-yard touchdown pass to Moreno that brought the crown to its feet.
Soriano also rushed for 103 yards on eight carries, averaging almost 13 yards a carry. Along with Hayward and Josiah Salinas, the Toros rushed for nearly 200 yards. Salinas chipped in 39 yards on 10 carries.
“It’s all about learning how to win. We made some silly mistakes in the second half,” Marquez said. “I don’t think Stone Ridge did too much to slow us down offensively. I think they did a great job adjusting on offense, which gave us problems defensively. Kudos to them for making those changes, but also to our guys, as well, for sticking it out and getting the win.”
The Toros’ offense took center stage as Soriano opened the scoring with a 35-yard pass to Salinas.
After stopping the Stone Ridge Knights, the Toros’ defense handed the ball back to the offense where Soriano wasted no time. The Toros’ playmaker connected with Moreno for an 81-yard score putting the home team up 14.
The Toros couldn’t have asked for a better start on a very special evening.
“We wanted to get our team back out here and, of course, because of COVID, it was really hard to make that happen. For us to be able to come out here and compete in front of our fans is really special,” Matilda Torres Athletic Director Jordan Murphy said. “For them to support us so much and just to get that win as well made it a great night and we hope to have many more like this moving forward.”
Already leading by two scores, the Toros were just getting warmed up.
Hayward complimented the Toros’ passing attack and by being a bruiser up the middle. The Toros back didn’t gain more than 50 yards, but his relentless effort and toughness wore down the Stone Ridge front seven.
Matilda Torres marched down the field, sustaining a long drive over 10 plays, for Hayward to cap off the drive with a punishing five-yard touchdown run.
The Toros took a 20-0 lead after a missed extra point, but the visitors from Merced still had something to say.
Stone Ridge’s Hector Estevez tacked on the visitors’ first points in the second quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Leading now 20-7, the Toros had one shot left at putting points on the board before the first half ended.
Soriano called his own number on a 20-yard run that set the Toros for a near-perfect play as the time expired. Soriano found Moreno for a 20-yard gain that stopped the Toros within the five-yard line.
Luckily, with a single second on the clock, Soriano found Moreno for a quick strike to push the Toros’ lead 27-7.
Leading by 20 points at the break, the Toros were in for a dogfight as the Knights made adjustments at the half.
Stone Ridge scored twice in the fourth quarter to cut the score 27-21.
After the latest Estevez score, Marquez and his offense ran down the clock until only seconds were left.
Stone Ridge had one last heave into the end zone, but like the entire night, the Matilda Torres defense was more than ready. The final pass into the end zone from Stone Ridge landed 20 yards shy of the marker, ending the game and giving Matilda Torres its first home win in school history.