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High Scoring Football Contest Goes To Varsity Cougars
In a fast paced, back and forth contest, Escalon's varsity Cougars came out on top, edging host Linden in a 49-35 shootout on Friday night. The contest was a nailbiter in the first half, as the teams traded scores and went into the locker rooms knotted at 28-all.

"I knew we would be okay offensively," said head coach Mark Loureiro, "but on defense, we broke down. We didn't tackle well, we took bad angles to the ball, we just didn't adjust. We would play well for two or three plays, then give up a big play."

Escalon also fumbled twice and lost them both during the contest, hurting themselves by setting up Lion scores, but made Linden pay on a late fumble that Daniel Alcantor scooped up and returned for a fourth quarter touchdown.

Linden drew first blood on Friday night, scoring with 5:29 to go in the first, taking the opening kickoff from Escalon and getting it down the field for the score. They missed the extra point but had a 6-0 lead.

Escalon answered on their first drive, Josh Miguel going in from 13 yards out after some rushing plays and a pass from Gino Franceschetti to Miguel to set up the final run. The kick by Franceschetti was good for a 7-6 lead with 3:09 in the opening quarter.

Linden capitalized on a Cougar fumble and scored on the first play of he second quarter on a 49-yard play and tacked on the extra 2 for a 14-7 lead. Escalon got an 85-yard kickoff return from Miguel and the point after to knot it up mere seconds later.

The dogfight continued in the second with a 40-yard rush by Linden for the score at 10:02, leading 21-14; Escalon tying it on a run by Adrian Cortes and the kick with 5:25 to go. Escalon took the lead on a 65-yard pass play to Miguel with 2:15 left but Linden made it 28-28 with just 20 seconds left in the half on a rushing play.

"Linden played well, take nothing away from them, they played a very good game," Loureiro said. "But we were the better team, and good teams win games even when they play bad sometimes."

Escalon put three more scores on the board in the second half, while limiting Linden to a single touchdown over the final two periods.

With 8:36 to go in the third, Miguel went in for the score and the kick was good, giving the Cougars a 35-28 advantage.

Junior David Gonzales got on the score sheet with a touchdown with 3:37 to play in the third, the kick by Franceschetti was good, and the visitors were ahead 42-28. The Lions scored with 25 seconds left in the frame to make it 42-35.

An exchange of fumbles midway through the final quarter saw defensive lineman Daniel Alcantor scoop up an errant ball from Linden and take it in from 6 yards out, with the kick after going through for a 49-35 advantage.

That ended the scoring for the night, the Cougars winning the game, Joey Ratto sealing the victory with an interception of a Linden pass in the end zone with just under 1:30 to play.

"Miguel had 108 yards rushing, 101 yards receiving and another 85 yards on a kickoff return, he scored four touchdowns," Loureiro said of another standout night by the junior running back.

"Adrian Cortes ran hard, he had 15 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown. David Gonzales got a couple of first downs and a touchdown," added the coach. "Gino (Franceschetti) completed his first five passes, he threw for 134 yards and a touchdown. We had 392 yards offensively, we were just a little shell-shocked on defense."

Leading the way on defense, though, were Victor Carrillo with 12 tackles, Shane Silveira added 10, Tony Vincent with nine tackles and two sacks, Daniel Alcantor with a sack, a fumble recovery and a touchdown. Brandon Shaw had six tackles and one sack and Joey Ratto had an interception.

"We were on defense a lot of the night," Loureiro said.

Linden had more total yards - 395 - than Escalon (392) but the Cougars found the end zone a couple more times than the host squad.

This week, the Cougars have their first home game but it will be a tough one, as Patterson comes in for a 7:30 p.m. contest on Friday, Sept. 17.