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Cougars Steamroll Past Bruins In Varsity Football Action
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Junior Ryker Peters puts his head down to gain some positive yardage against the Bruins in Riverbank on Friday night. He had a touchdown called back on a penalty, but still had some strong runs in the Cougar win. Marg Jackson/The Times

In a game that featured plenty of scoring and lots of stellar efforts from players who don’t often get significant playing time, Escalon steamrolled its way past host Riverbank on Friday night, 51-0.

Escalon scored on every possession, never having to punt the ball in the Oct. 15 contest.

It was Senior Night for Riverbank, with recognition for football players and cheerleaders in a slightly expanded halftime break, but by that time the game was already well in hand for the Cougars.

Three touchdowns in the first quarter and four more in the second staked Escalon to a 48-0 halftime lead, missing just one extra point attempt. That also meant a running clock in the second half. There was no scoring in the third; Escalon put their final points on the board on a fourth quarter field goal.

“It was the same mindset as the Modesto Christian game,” head coach Andrew Beam said, with the Cougars on the road and taking a lopsided win against the Crusaders on Oct. 8.

“The goal was to get everybody to play, get guys some well-earned time,” Beam added. “We were a little lackadaisical out of the gate at MC but not so here.”

Starters played the first quarter and some played much of the first half, but the reserves were routinely subbed in and had the chance to make some noise of their own.

“Pietro Orlando had one-and-a-half sacks, he had one solo and shared one with Kevin Gastelum,” Beam said. “Luke Oliver got a sack and got to do his Irish jig.”

In practice during the week, the coach noted, Oliver made plans to do a jig if he recorded a sack; he made good on both achievements, delighting his teammates with the Irish jig at midfield.

“Nathan Chavez dove for a ball and just had an incredible interception, I really couldn’t believe it when I saw it on film, he was straight out and pulled it in,” the coach added of players taking their turn in the spotlight. “Ryan Lewis had a strip sack for a forced fumble and the Ball-Out Belt winner, well deserved, was Christian Rowe with nine tackles.”

Eight different ball carriers were featured during the game for Escalon and six players scored touchdowns to go along with the late game 39-yard field goal.

Putting that through the uprights was Alfonzo Gonzalez, who connected on six-of-seven point after attempts as well.

“He stepped in at outside linebacker for us and did well,” Beam added.

For the players able to get in and make a difference, the night was a memorable one.

“It felt good, I don’t play all that much so it was fun to get the ball,” said junior running back Sawyer Mello, gaining some hard fought yardage against the Bruins on a handful of carries.

Junior linebacker Christian Rowe, carrying the coveted Ball-Out Belt, was still pumped up after the contest.

“It was very energetic,” he said of being on the field or on the sidelines for the Friday night road game. “It was good to be out there with the team. Now we put the pedal to the metal, work together hard.”

Celebrating his birthday, senior running back/linebacker Luis Garcia said he loves being part of the Cougar football family and the team is gearing up for the clash with Ripon.

“We need to do our assignments,” Garcia said of what will be key to getting past rival Ripon, adding the Cougars hope to “show the TVL” they are a team to be reckoned with this season.

First quarter scoring came on a 12-yard run by Matthew Baptista followed by the point after from Gonzalez; another Baptista run for 6 yards, kick good; and EJ Lewis pulled in a 13-yard pass from quarterback Donovan Rozevink for the third touchdown of the opening frame, point after attempt was good.

Owen Nash got the second quarter scoring going with a 25-yard touchdown reception, kick good; followed by a 15-yard run from JP Lial, kick good, after the Chavez interception. Jamin Miller – the leading rusher on the night – broke free for a 50-yard rumble to the end zone, kick good, and Colton Page rounded out the first half scoring with a 9-yard run, kick failed, for the 48-0 Cougar lead.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, with the running clock a definite factor, while Escalon was able to get the 39-yard field goal in the fourth. The ball hit the crossbar and bounced through, just barely enough to get the points.

But the kick by Gonzalez was good and the Cougars had the 51-0 win in hand.

Escalon had 375 total yards of offense; Riverbank had just 69. The Bruins did pull in one interception but were never able to get much going offensively, as the Cougars just seemed to swarm to the ball each time.

Offensively, Rozevink was 5-for-9 for 110 yards and two touchdown passes, along with being intercepted once. Miller had two carries for 56 yards and a touchdown to lead the ground attack.

“Six different guys scored so we spread the wealth,” Beam said.

Caden Gonsalves was another defensive standout, recording nine tackles.

And despite all the good things happening for the Cougars, Beam said they again committed too many penalties, called for 10 of them during the contest.

“We gave Riverbank 80 yards in penalties,” Beam noted, adding that they have to clean that area of their game up, as they can’t afford to give teams like Ripon and Livingston – their next two league opponents – any extra yardage.

The Cougars are scheduled to host Ripon at Engel Field on Friday night, Oct. 22 with kickoff about 7 p.m.

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First on the scene to stop the forward progress of the Riverbank runner was Escalon’s Pietro Orlando, 59, who got some solid minutes of playing time on Friday night and recorded 1½ sacks. Marg Jackson/The Times