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Cougars Send Pacheco Packing With Win In Home Opener
Playing without a scoreboard for the first time in head coach Mark Loureiro's memory, it was a good thing the Cougars didn't need to worry about how much time was left in the game.

Comfortably ahead in the fourth quarter, the Cougars saw visiting Pacheco tack on one late score but still left Engel Field with a satisfying 27-7 victory in their home opener on Aug. 31.

"It was a little weird, not having the scoreboard lit up, that has never happened to me at Escalon," Loureiro said of the malfunctioning scoreboard, with issues leaving it dark for the majority of the contest.

A tenuous 7-0 lead at halftime was fleshed out with a third quarter score and a quick strike in the fourth, giving the Cougars some breathing room.

"I didn't think we played that well but, watching the film, the more I watched the better we played, the scoreboard didn't indicate how much we dominated that team. We did get better from Week One to Week Two, we had a lot stronger pass rush, we tackled better."

It was another outstanding game for Nathan Chunn, 24 carries for 123 yards and a pair of scores. Jason Robbins also got in on the scoring and had 10 carries for 48 yards to go along with his two catches for 18 yards.

"We scored on our first drive of the game," added Loureiro.

The Cougars had kicked off to visiting Pacheco but the Panthers did not move the ball effectively their first time on offense. Escalon, meanwhile, did make the most of their first possession.

"We got a long pass completion from (Phillip) Kimble to Alec (Von Alvensleben) for 32 yards," Loureiro said. "That set up a 1-yard run by Chunn for the touchdown."

The point after was good by Thomas Diniz for a 7-0 Cougar lead.

"That was the only scoring in the first half," Loureiro said, noting that his team had opportunities but hurt themselves with some untimely turnovers close to pay dirt.

"We just couldn't shake loose of them," he admitted of letting Pacheco stay close until late in the contest.

Jason Robbins scored on a 30-yard counter play in the third quarter, the kick was good and Chunn went in on a 1-yard run in the fourth with the kick good to open up a 21-0 lead.

"They scored on a 28-yard touchdown pass," Loureiro said of Pacheco getting on the board as the fourth quarter wound down.

With the time winding down and a two-score lead in hand, the coach was able to rotate in some bench players and Rafael Felix made the most of his opportunity, going in on a 28-yard run with less than a minute to play to make the final score 27-7 in favor of Escalon.

"I thought our tight ends and tackles did a good job," Loureiro added of the overall effort. "And Johnathon Costa played great defense, he had 12 tackles and one sack."

Robbie Steves and Fernando Ceniceros each had a sack as well, with the tackles spread around after that point.

"It was just nice to get back on the winning side and we need to keep that momentum going," Loureiro said.

Team stats showed the Cougars firmly in control of the contest. Pacheco had just five first downs on the night and 117 total yards of offense, while the Cougars had 17 first downs and 320 yards of offense.

Pacheco rushed 24 times for 56 yards and completed 3-of-12 pass attempts for 61 yards. Escalon rushed 54 times for 258 yards, completed 6-of-11 pass attempts for 62 yards and one interception. On the minus side, the Cougars had three fumbles and lost two of them, something they will work on in practice this week.

The squad heads to nearby Linden for a non-league battle on Friday.

"They run the ball 75 percent of the time, use a veer offense," said Loureiro. "They are kind of a Jekyll and Hyde team, they started with a 56-7 win and last week they took a 47-7 loss to Ripon.

"But Linden-Escalon has been a rivalry for quite some time and they typically play tough at home."

The blue and gold Lions are under the direction of head coach Mark Miller and play in the Mother Lode League. They will look to hand the Cougars their second loss of the season, while the Escalon squad looks to keep their momentum rolling as they head into back to back battles with Patterson and Ripon, two of the toughest teams they will likely see this season.