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Friday Night Fight - Offense, Defense Roll To Football Victory Over Patterson
Escalon's varsity football program took a giant leap forward Friday night. The Cougars, with many players stepping up into new roles of leadership, turned the corner with their best effort of the season, shocking some with a 24-13 defeat of the powerful Patterson Tigers.

"No question about it, that was a big statement, a big vote of confidence for us," said head coach Mark Loureiro. "We had to play a full four quarters and so many kids made big plays."

Key to the victory was the emergence of Phillip Kimble, who had his best game under center. Plays that seemed destined as a loss instead became gains as Kimble scrambled out of the pocket, eluding would be tacklers. There were plenty of times he found himself on his back after getting a pass off, but enough of them connected to help add up to a major win for the squad.

"Your quarterback has to play real well for you to win," Loureiro said. "Kimble was 9-for-13 for 196 yards and a touchdown, he was on the money with everything."

In a game matching the undefeated Tigers with the once-beaten Cougars, it was a battle of heavyweights, with Escalon left standing in the end.

"A lot of heroes," said Loureiro. "Nathan Chunn again had an outstanding effort, 26 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown, and he just pounded them at the end of the game.

"Andrew Zavala had three catches for 117 yards and a touchdown, Alec Von Alvensleben had two catches for 51 yards and both of his catches set up touchdowns."

Up and down the line, offensively and defensively, the Cougars made a stand on their home field. Especially on defense, where they held Patterson out with a terrific goal line stand late in the game.

"I'm super proud of the defense, Patterson has been averaging over 50 points per game," Loureiro pointed out.

Von Alvensleben and Josh Redding had interceptions to stop Patterson drives, while leading tacklers were Johnathon Costa with eight, Robbie Steves with seven, Lance Davis with six, and Joey Gutierrez with five tackles and one sack. Escalon got its first touchdown of the night on a 10-play, 65-yard drive capped by a 1-yard plunge from Chunn after a 21-yard pass completion to Von Alvensleben. Thomas Diniz kicked the point after for a 7-0 Cougar lead.

Second quarter scoring saw Kimble hit Zavala for a 28-yard touchdown, with the kick good, to give the Cougars a 14-0 edge.

But with just two minutes left in the half, Patterson converted on a 15-yard pass play and point after to trim the lead to 14-7.

Escalon took the second half kick-off but went a quick three and out and Patterson got back in the game with a 67-yard touchdown pass on their first play from scrimmage, though the point after attempt was low and no good. That kept Escalon in the lead, 14-13. A Diniz field goal from 29 yards out made it 17-13 and one of Kimble's highlight reel completions, a 74-yard bomb hauled in by Zavala, set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Jason Robbins. The kick was good and it was 24-13 Escalon at the end of three quarters.

No one got into the end zone the rest of the way, the Cougar defense clamping down on the versatile Tigers.

"We got some great minutes off the bench from Luis Estrada, and Jason Robbins and Robbie Steves are always steady for us," Loureiro added. "Our secondary tackled better and it was a good win with a playoff atmosphere."

Escalon had 383 yards of offense, with 38 rushes for 157 yards and 196 yards passing. Patterson had 365 yards, with 41 on 17 rushes, 329 passing yards on 21 completions.

"Los Banos left a bad taste in our mouth," quarterback Kimble said of the team's early season loss. "We didn't play a perfect game (Friday night), but we knew we had to get points on the board."

Kimble said he didn't actually get to see his 74-yard completion to Zavala, since he was being taken down by the Patterson defense as he let the pass fly.

"I heard the crowd roar," he said, knowing the connection had been made. "We were just fired up from the start."

Von Alvensleben said the team practiced hard all week.

"We focused on all the little details," he said.

"It's the best feeling ever," Chunn added of coming away with the big win. "I think we were more prepared, and it was great to come out and play a good football game, all around."

Senior Alan Gonzalez said it was an important win.

"We lost a lot of people," he said of graduating several players. "I just think we showed the world what we can do. It's one of the biggest games, it's a satisfying win."


Coming up this week, the Cougars start the Trans-Valley League schedule with likely their toughest opponent, Ripon.

"This is the team that town has been waiting for, they have been together since Pop Warner and they have been winners all the way along," Loureiro said.

The Cougars know they will be in a fight, one that will probably have playoff implications, even though it is the first league game for both teams.

The red and white Indians are led by three-year quarterback senior Kyle Wengel, 5-9, 175; leading rusher Josh McCreath, who had two touchdowns and 154 yards rushing in a win over Lathrop last week. Also in the mix is Anthony Baciocco, a halfback and free safety, while leading on the line are senior Andrew Carlson, 6-5, 225 and junior Kody Day, 6-2, 230.

"This will be another big test for us," said Loureiro. "Both these teams are expected to go deep into the playoffs."

Escalon will be looking for a supportive crowd, with kickoff about 7:30 p.m. Friday at Engel Field.