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Cougars Run League Mark To 3-0 With Win Over Bruins
Jack Fitzgerald cradles the ball after taking the handoff from quarterback Ty Harris in action against Riverbank; Fitzgerald scored late in the second quarter of a 48-15 Cougar victory. Marg Jackson/The Times

Miguel Souza Jr. took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, the point after was good by Brayan Barrientos and, 13 seconds into the contest, Escalon had a 7-0 lead over Riverbank.

The Friday night game saw a 20-0 Escalon lead after the first quarter, 41-0 at the half and ended with the Cougars taking a 48-15 Trans-Valley League victory off the field.

Most of the starters came out of the locker room at halftime minus their pads and helmets, with the second unit coming in to handle the load in the third and fourth quarters.

Riverbank did score two fourth quarter touchdowns to avoid the shutout, but the game was already well in hand.

With the win, the Cougars improved to 7-0 overall, 3-0 in the TVL.

“It was a nice statement from the get go,” head coach Andrew Beam said. “We got an 88-yard return from Souza to start the game, he was basically untouched, and the offense was pretty efficient.”

Kaden Christensen scored on a 25 yard reception from Ty Harris, kick good and Luke Anderson found the end zone on a 5 yard run, kick no good, to account for the first quarter 20-0 lead.

In the second quarter, scores came from Colton Panero, 81 yard run, 2-point conversion from Harris to Kaidence Trejo; Christensen, 40 yard run, kick good; and a 1 yard plunge from Jack Fitzgerald, kick blocked, for the 41-0 halftime advantage.

“Jack had three straight carries on that drive to get in,” noted Beam.

The only Cougar score in the second half came on a nice 34 yard run from Dylan Park in the third quarter, with the kick good, to make it 48-0.

Riverbank added their touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including one with a 2-point conversion.

“On defense, Isael Gallo had seven tackles and Jaden Fontes had five,” Beam said of some juniors stepping up with the second unit. “Dylan Parks ran well for the second offense, Richard Erazo had an interception, EJ Lewis and Damien Tom had sacks.”

For the game, Panero had two carries for 92 yards, Christensen had three carries for 63 yards. Escalon had 363 total yards, Riverbank had 163.

“It feels great,” said senior Fitzgerald, getting the chance for some carries and finding the end zone.

But he said the real work starts now, as the team gets ready for the rival Indians.

Roman Gonzalez, winner of this week’s Ball-Out Belt, agreed.

“It will be a like a playoff game,” Gonzalez said. “It will be a war, we need to keep our composure, we need to come out on top.”

Parks and Souza, also contributing to the scoring on Friday night, said it was important for everyone to get involved and both were excited about finding the end zone.

Beam also pointed to the tenacity of their opponent, despite the lopsided score.

“I give credit to Riverbank, they stayed in it and fought until the end,” Beam said.

Friday night, the Cougars will be on the road, looking for their first win on Ripon’s field in several years.

The host team will have all its weapons back, as some players are returning from injury, and Beam said his team will need to be focused and ready for battle.

“I told the guys, if they want an outright (TVL) championship, this could be it,” he said of working to get a win over Ripon. “We’re going to get them at full strength; we anticipate one heck of a battle.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Working to escape the would-be Riverbank tackler, Jaden Fontes looks to gain more yardage on Friday night. Marg Jackson/The Times
Cougar Garrett Nash wraps up the Riverbank ball carrier as other defenders move in to help if needed; the host Escalon varsity took a 48-15 win off the field on Friday night. Marg Jackson/The Times