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Cougars Top Crusaders In High Scoring Contest
Withstanding the early storm, the varsity Escalon Cougars held on and did some damage of their own, defeating the host Modesto Christian Crusaders in Friday night action, 54-35.

"I think we just kind of wore them down," explained Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro. "They start fast in all their games but every time they scored, we answered."

Escalon was finally able to get a little distance between themselves and their opponent when, leading by seven, Jason Robbins recovered an MC fumble and they cashed in with a touchdown to extend the lead to 13, never looking back.

But the night started out with a huge play by the Crusaders, who used speed and height to notch some scores with passes to the corners.

MC scored twice in the first quarter to Escalon's one, while the Cougars returned the favor in the second quarter to send the teams into the locker rooms at halftime tied 21-21.

Escalon had a 14-7 third quarter scoring edge and sealed the win with a 19-7 edge in the final frame.

"You go all the way around in this one," Loureiro said of key efforts that contributed to the win. "We rushed for 366 yards, Nathan Chunn had 34 rushes for 248 yards and four touchdowns, Jason Robbins rushed 10 times for 83 yards and a touchdown."

The offensive line, said the coach, got a great push all night, anchored by center Joey Gutierrez and players Tyson Pomicpic, Alan Gonzalez, Brent Montgomery and Vince Valenzuela, among others that rotated in and out to stay fresh.

Running backs Johnathon Costa and Robbie Steves also provided solid blocking.

"Alec VonAlvensleben had a big game, five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown and (quarterback) Phillip Kimble again was solid, 7-for-13 for 148 yards including some big clutch first downs."

The back and forth action saw MC strike first on a 52-yard pass with the extra point, countered by a 55-yard catch for the score by VonAlvensleben, extra point good.

MC then got an 82-yard reception and the 2-point conversion, Escalon got a 3-yard run from Josh Redding for a score.

But the Crusaders returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, 92 yards. Escalon answered late in the half on a 1-yard run from Chunn and tacked on a 2-point conversion to draw even at 21-21.

"That was major, to score right before half, we carried that momentum into that second half," said Loureiro.

The Cougars scored on their opening drive, a 2-yard plunge from Chunn and it was again a flurry of scoring by both teams.

MC got a 19-yard pass play, Chunn went in from 4 yards out, Robbins scored on a 16-yard run, MC completed a 58-yard touchdown reception, then the Cougars put the final two scores on the board, a 33-yard run by Chunn and a 1-yard keeper from Kimble to put the final points in the books.

Escalon rolled to 514 total yards of offense, 54 rushing plays for 366 yards and 148 yards through the air. Modesto Christian had 24 rushing plays for 41 yards and completed 13 passes for 278 yards.

Loureiro said they knew MC was fast and could score in a hurry, but they stayed with their game plan and didn't panic, able to answer back with points of their own.

Costa paced the squad with 14 tackles, Lance Davis added 10, while Robbins and VonAlvensleben each had an interception. Collin Strasser and Brent Montgomery recorded sacks.

"Offensively, we pushed it down their throats, just pushed back," junior Redding said of withstanding the early scoring barrage of the Crusaders.

Senior Gonzalez said the team stayed focused and that was key.

"It was very important to keep our composure, we survived the storm," he said.

Escalon heads to Riverbank this week for the regular season finale, looking to sew up a home game in the playoffs with a win. The Cougars are now 7-2 overall and 4-1 in league, Riverbank has yet to get into the TVL win column.

"Riverbank got off to a good preseason but this league is tough for them," Loureiro said. "We have some depth so I hope to get a lot of kids some playing time."