One thing is sure – Escalon can’t play the way they did Friday night and expect to bring home a blue banner.
Though the Cougars returned from a long road trip to Sutter with a 23-2 victory in hand, it was a case where they eased off the gas, lost a little of the urgency on offense, and depended on their defense.
Luckily, the defense was more than up to the task and Escalon took down the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 top seed Sutter Huskies in the Nov. 18 semifinal contest. In fact, the host team had less than 100 yards of offense for the game.
“A win is a win,” head coach Andrew Beam summarized. “I guess it’s a sign of a talented team if you can make a lot of mistakes and still come away with the win.”
However, the coach and his players know they have to be better this week. The victory at Sutter propelled Escalon into the Section final; they will face off with No. 2 seed Sonora in a Saturday night game, 6 p.m., Nov. 26 at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton.
“There were still some bright spots,” added Beam. “The defense was just awesome; we held them to 65 yards of total offense; we jumped out to a 15-0 lead.”
Escalon won the toss and deferred; Sutter called for a fair catch on the kickoff but the wind – swirling and ranging between 15 to 18 mph – played havoc with the kick and the receiver couldn’t handle it. Carson Medina pounced on the loose ball and Escalon was in business. They turned the host Huskies’ miscue into a touchdown, run in by Ryker Peters, who also took in the 2-point conversion. That made it 8-0 Escalon just a few minutes into the game.
The Cougars scored on the first play of the second quarter as well on an eight-yard pass – with the wind – from Donovan Rozevink to Owen Nash, with Talan Reider adding the extra point for a 15-0 lead.
“I think we figured out quickly that they weren’t too good on offense,” Beam said. “We lost a little bit of focus; let off the gas.”
Beam said after getting the two early scores and another stop on defense, the Cougars were driving when they fumbled in the red zone and then just couldn’t seem to get the offense back on track.
Sutter got its only two points of the night in the third quarter, after a punt into the wind took a favorable roll and pinned the Cougars at the 1-yard line. A missed blocking assignment allowed the Sutter defense to take down the Cougar ball carrier in the end zone so it was 15-2 Escalon with eight minutes eft in the third quarter.
The final score of the night of the Cougars came on a 1-yard plunge from Peters in the fourth quarter, who then took in the 2-point conversion for the 23-2 final.
“I think the week before, beating Hilmar, I think we put so much time and effort into that win,” Beam said, that the team had difficulty sustaining a high level of energy, especially after the more than two-hour drive for the contest at Sutter.
Peters had 20 carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns plus a pair of two-point conversions in the win; Logan Anderson had 13 carries for 78 yards. Owen Nash had three catches for 31 yards – making him the single season leader in receptions at EHS with 51 on the year – and a touchdown. Rozevink had a tough night with the wind but was able to complete some short passes while the defense stepped up huge, Peters recording 10 tackles and Jacob Rauch adding six tackles in his best game of the season. The defense also added a couple of fumble recoveries and never let the ground game get going for the top-seeded Huskies, who saw their first postseason action this year in the tough Sac-Joaquin Section.