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First Round Victory Cougars Shut Down Thundering Herd In 63-25 Football Win
The atmosphere was electric, the Cougars pushed hard, the Thundering Herd pushed back ... and the Cougars pushed harder still. The end result after an evening of playoff football at Engel Field in Escalon on Friday was a resounding 63-25 victory for the varsity squad in its opening round playoff contest.

Escalon kicked off to the visiting Amador Buffaloes, also known as the Thundering Herd, and didn't allow the Mother Lode League team to get anything going on their first possession, the ball punted away.

The Cougars served notice quickly that they were not going to be denied in this contest, with an effective drive resulting in an 18-yard rushing touchdown by Josh Miguel less than two-and-a-half minutes into the contest. The kick for the point after by Gino Franceschetti was good and it was an early 7-0 lead.

Amador answered with a long drive and some acrobatic catches by wide receiver Johnny Nichols, with quarterback Clinton Tremelling keeping it and getting in on a second effort on a fourth and 1 with 3:05 left in the first. The 2-point conversion failed so Escalon still had the lead at 7-6.

Escalon's next drive also saw a score, but only after a huge scramble for a first down by Franceschetti after he had to improvise when intended receiver Brandon Shaw slipped and went down.

After grabbing the first down, two big runs by Adrian Cortes got the Cougars in position and he took it in from 3 yards out with the kick good, to make it 14-6 after one.

"The offense was running on all cylinders and we got key contributions from all our skill guys," head coach Mark Loureiro said. "The line did a nice job blocking, the backs did a nice job running."

Miguel had nine carries for 133 yards and four touchdowns on the night, while James Hill also made his presence felt with four carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, as well as being in on five tackles defensively and batting down several passes.

Shaw pulled in a touchdown pass and Matt Roberson was thrust into the spotlight as the return man.

"They (Amador) didn't want to kick off to Miguel so they kicked short and Matt had four returns totaling 41 yards, he gave us good field position all night," Loureiro said.

Roberson said he was happy to be involved.

"I jus wanted to get up the field," he said. "I had good blocking, I was able to see the field well."

The victory, Escalon's 10th of the season, marks 16 out of the last 20 years that they have had 10 or more wins in a season.

"We got a lot of kids involved in the game," Loureiro added of another bright spot in the win.

Second quarter action saw the Cougars score four times to take a commanding 42-12 lead by halftime.

Scores came on a 10-yard run by Miguel, a 1-yard plunge from Cortes, 38-yard run by Hill and a 58-yard touchdown pass to Shaw.

Franceschetti added the extra point each time. Amador countered with a 52-yard touchdown pass that came on a fake punt, but the 2-point failed, giving them six points. The Cougars added two more touchdowns to Amador's one in the third, and the teams traded scores in the fourth quarter.

Miguel scored on runs of 10 and 59 yards in the third quarter, the Buffaloes converted on a 35-yard touchdown pass. In the fourth, Dylan Furtado got in on a "beautiful run," said Loureiro, going 12 yards and giving an extra spin move and effort to get into the end zone. Amador closed out the scoring with a 23-yard pass play.

"I was getting dragged down but I had to keep going, I had to get this for my team," Furtado said of putting the final score on the board. "It felt great."

Loureiro noted that Amador fought hard all night.

"They converted on two fake punts, they caught about five passes that we batted, their quarterback got outside and made things happen, he kept them in the ball game."

The Cougar defense kept the Thundering Herd from doing much thundering down the field, though, limiting them to 66 yards rushing on 40 attempts.

Shaw and Gilbert Mancilla each had nine tackles, Shane Silveira had eight tackles and a fumble recovery, Tony Vincent had nine tackles and a sack, Victor Carrillo added eight tackles. Ian Fitzgerald also had a fumble recovery.

"Our kids came to play," said Loureiro. "It's good to keep this thing going."

Escalon had 420 total yards, with 30 rushing plays for 323 yards and 97 passing yards on 2-of-3 completions from Franceschetti.

They had no fumbles and were penalized five times for 50 yards, with 12 first downs on the night. Amador had 11 first downs, 341 total yards, 66 rushing and 275 passing on 19 completions in 33 attempts.

They lost two fumbles and were penalized four times for 35 yards. Senior Chad Hale said now the real work begins.

"On defense, we have to be a little less sloppy, we have to get ready to work this week, but this was a nice win, it felt good," Hale said.

Junior quarterback Franceschetti also is looking forward to the challenge of Central Catholic, noting that the Cougars will need to be physical and play a smart game.

"Central is pretty strong ... we need to get ready," he said.