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Cougars Score Early, Often In Rout Of Wolves
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For the first time in several weeks, Escalon had fun on the football field.

After a few tightly contested games, the Cougars thumped visiting Livingston, 35-13, in action Friday night at Engel Field. It was a time to get healthy for the squad, a time to get several players added in to the mix. And, for coach Mark Loureiro, a time to enjoy playing in front of the home crowd.

"That's what we needed," he said. "Three weeks in a row we've had tough games and we were very fortunate this week to get a lot of kids involved, there were a lot of smiles in the locker room after the game."

Proving to be just too powerful for Livingston to handle, the Cougars scored one touchdown in the first quarter and poured it on with three more in the second to take a commanding 28-0 lead at the half. They added one more score in the third quarter, Livingston scratched for two scores in the fourth but the game was already well in hand.

"We were just a bit too physical for them," Loureiro said. "We got them out of alignment, we created some trouble for them there and we hit our blocks, got some confidence back in our ground game."

Livingston got the ball to start the contest and managed to move the ball up the field, trying for the field goal from 43 yards out but sending it low and short.

Escalon took over at the 20-yard line but had a quick possession, punting the ball away. Livingston returned the favor, also going three and out. From there, a big first down reception by Jordan Ramirez set up teammate Justin Chandley for a 6-yard scramble for the score. Chris Diniz added the point after for a 7-0 Cougar lead with 35 seconds left in the first quarter.

After Livingston punted the ball away early in the second quarter, it was a combination of Justin Chandley, Ramirez and Gus Arzac rushing the ball up the field and Arzac going in from a yard out with 7:58 to play in the quarter. The kick by Diniz was good to put the home team ahead 14-0.

An interception by Travis Hooks on the next Livingston drive turned in to six more points for the Cougars. Marcus Savage made an acrobatic catch of an Andrew Beam pass on the first play from scrimmage after the interception and two plays later, Chandley connected again on a 10-yard run with the kick by Diniz for a 21-0 edge.

"The offense picked things up a little bit," said Loureiro. "Our backs did a good job, we had two backs with 100 yards, Justin Chandley had 12 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns, Jordan Ramirez had six carries for 100 yards and a touchdown."

Quarterback Beam had a solid night as well, completing five passes for 91 yards, utilizing five different receivers.

"The main thing was getting a lot of different kids involved," Loureiro added.

After taking the three score lead, Escalon held off a determined Wolves team, getting the ball back on downs on the next Livingston possession. Anthony Suniga then pulled in the longest pass of the night - a 48-yarder - from Beam and that set up a touchdown by Savage, going in from 6 yards out with just under two minutes to play in the half. With Diniz adding the point after, the Cougars were cruising at 28-0.

Livingston tried to get on the board before the end of the first half but their next possession ended on a Sean O'Neill interception with a minute to play and the Cougars went into the locker room with the sizeable lead.

As second half play started, the teams traded quick possessions and then Livingston started a drive that ended with a fumble, scooped up by Justin Chandley deep in Cougar territory. Ramirez took over from there, electrifying the crowd with a 75-yard touchdown run, shaking off all Livingston defenders. The kick was good and the Cougars had an insurmountable 35-0 lead.

Livingston would add two scores in the fourth quarter but it was too little, too late. The Wolves caught a break with 7:30 to play, catching a tipped ball and taking it in from 35 yards out. The point after was no good, leaving the game at 35-6. The visitors tacked on one more score with 1:25 to play, this time a rushing play that saw the Wolves go in from 10 yards out, breaking a last-second tackle attempt to get into the end zone. This time, the kick was good but the Cougars walked off with the convincing 35-13 win.

"This was a real good game, a good team win," said Loureiro. "There was also good sportsmanship on both sides, it was a very clean game."

Each team had only one penalty on the night, Livingston penalized five yards for an offensive penalty, Escalon called for 10 yards on a holding penalty. Neither figured in to the outcome of the game.

"Jesse Jimenez was all over the field for us, he had 16 tackles and 13 were unassisted," Loureiro said of standout players in the contest. "Sean O'Neill had a great game, he had one interception and a couple more in his hands, and he had five tackles."

Hooks had the other interception and returned it 30 yards to set up a score, Justin Chandley had the fumble recovery.

"Paul Anserlian recorded the one sack we had of the quarterback," Loureiro added. "Brian Gonsalves played well with the second group, Nate Keyser blocked real well on the offensive line and Jake Brown did a nice job on both sides of the line."

Vincent Rocha got some carries late in the game and churned up some hard yardage, with Anserlian also getting the opportunity to make a statement during his time on the field.

"I've been waiting all four years for that sack," said a tired, happy Anserlian following the contest. "It was just explosive for me out there, my dad came up to see me play from Los Angeles and I just wanted to play good...that sack, I got a couple of tackles, it was great."

Jimenez was low-key about his effort, noting that it takes the whole team to win.

"I just want to contribute to the team, everybody was doing their job out there," he said. "We wanted to take them out early."

With the win, the Cougars wrapped up the second seed in the TVL and will be on the road for the opening round of the playoffs on Nov. 19.

"We will face the number two seed team from the Golden Empire League," Loureiro said. "There's kind of a logjam there now so it could be any one of four teams, Woodland, Marysville, Lindhurst or Golden Sierra, we won't know until after this week's game."

The Cougars will close out the regular season at home, hosting Patterson on Nov. 12. Pre-game ceremonies at Engel Field will honor the senior athletes, cheerleaders and parents for their contributions over the years.