Dhameer Warren threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Merced High football team to win.
Madera (3-1) blew a 14-point lead in the second half, but rallied late to score the winning touchdown with 40 seconds left on the clock to defeat the Bears (1-3) and reclaim the Governor’s Hat with a 48-42 win on Friday night at Madera High in a battle of old rivals.
“It felt like a roller coaster, that’s for sure,” said Merced coach Rob Scheidt. “Honestly, we ran out of gas. We ran out of guys. The effort was there.”
The Bears lost running back/linebacker Elijah Gilliam due to injury in the first half. Shortly after receiver/defensive back Desmond Thompson also went down.
Merced was already without its top offensive lineman Clifford Johnson, who didn’t play with a shoulder injury.
The injuries challenged the the Bears’ depth and forced Merced to ask even more of many of their two-way players.
Still Merced rallied after falling behind 28-14 early in the third quarter.
Warren, who found Xavier Stewart for a 65-yard touchdown pass in the first half, hooked up with Stewart again for a 21-yard touchdown pass to pull Merced within 28-21 with 8:48 left in the third quarter.
After Madera again pushed the lead to 35-21, Warren threw a a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Soriano to cut the lead to 35-28 ith 5:27 left in the third.
Warren then tied the game at 35-35 with a 2-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
Merced took its first lead of the game when running back Andre Barnett scored on a 5-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
“Early on we felt like we were a few plays from getting rolling,” Scheidt said. “All of a sudden we do. We just had our hiccups trying to stop them.”
Madera close the game with 14 unanswered points.
Merced will open Central California Conference play next week against Pitman in Turlock.
Los Banos 49, Dos Palos 22 in Los Banos – Tigers quarterback Anthony Caballero threw for 306 yards and six touchdowns to help Los Banos improve to 4-0.
The Tigers exploded for 28 points in the second quarter as Caballero threw three touchdown passes to Daniel Guerrero, who finished with five catches for 98 yards and the three scores.
Caballero then hooked up with receiver Landon Ramos for touchdowns of 48 and 56 yards in the third quarter.
Paulie Calderon wrapped up the scoring for the Tigers with a 70-yard touchdown catch from Caballero.
Los Banos running back Antonio Lopez also chipped in with 113 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Lincoln 41, Golden Valley 14 in Merced – The Trojans played with heavy hearts after senior running back Cameron Allison was killed in a car accident on Friday afternoon.
According to Golden Valley athletic director Matt Thissen, GV offered to cancel the game, but Lincoln opted to play.
Rodney Evans accounted for one of the Cougars’ touchdowns, hauling in an 80-yard touchdown from Jack Solis that pulled Golden Valley (0-4) within 28-14 midway through the third quarter.
Beyer 35, Atwater 6 in Atwater – The Patriots spoiled the Falcons homecoming festivities with the victory. Atwater falls to 0-3 this season. The Falcons will host Ceres on Thursday.
Le Grand 21, Linden 6 in Le Grand – The Bulldogs returned two fumbles for touchdowns to hand interim coach Aaron Martinez his first win. Bubba Lara recorded a sack and forced a fumble that Daniel Maldonado scooped up and raced 88 yards to give the Bulldogs (1-2) a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs led 7-6 in the fourth quarter when Marcus Burrola found Elijah Hernandez for a 26-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 14-6. Hernandez set up the drive with an interception. Guillermo Sanchez put the game away for Le Grand, returning a fumble 65 yards later in the fourth quarter to give Le Grand a 21-6 lead.
Moutain House 26, Livingston 20 in Livingston – Vladik Sutherland scored three touchdowns as the Mustangs held off the Wolves late charge. Sutherland scored on runs of 49 and 15 yards and also hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Efrain Rico scored on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Eduardo Mendoza for the Wolves’ first touchdown with 4:49 left in the second quarter that cut the lead to 14-6 at the time. Anderson Guzman later capped a 99-yard Livingston drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. John Garcia scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 20-20 with 6:42 left in the game.
Mountain House’s Jesse Jordan scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Mustangs a 26-20 lead with 3 minutes left. Livingston (2-2) reached the red zone on its final drive but turned the ball over on downs.
Stone Ridge Christian 31, Denair 19 in Denair – Shane Casillas carried the ball 17 times for 162 yards and three touchdowns to help the Knights improve to 3-1. SRC quarterback Bryce Louters completed 6 of 9 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
Other area scores: Modesto Christian 42, Gustine 21
Yosemite 40, Mariposa 14
Sonora 20, Hilmar 13
Central Valley Christian 32, Chowchilla 28