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Home Loss Cougars Battle To 22-15 Finale Against Patterson
All the scoring came in the first half and though it was a back-and-forth affair, Patterson ended up with the win, defeating the Escalon Cougars in their home football opener on Friday night.

The final was 22-15 Patterson but head coach Mark Loureiro wouldn't let his team get down on themselves about the loss.

"There's not one thing to be ashamed of," Loureiro told the varsity squad in their post-game huddle. "If you play that hard, with that type of effort the rest of the way, we'll be league champions."

Loureiro knew going in that Patterson would be a huge test and the Tigers gave the Cougars everything they could handle.

"When you play good people, you've got to play near perfect," he told his team. "This game made us better. I guarantee it made us better."

It was the little things, Loureiro said, that made the difference, with the Cougars failing to capitalize on a couple of crucial third down plays, ending drives. Patterson also connected on a couple of big passes, perfectly placed, that burned the home team.

"It's okay to hurt," Loureiro added in speaking with the players following the loss. "It's okay to hurt ... it means you care."

Patterson took the opening kickoff and promptly went on a scoring drive, getting a big third down carry and a facemask call against Escalon that set them up for a quarterback keeper from 4 yards out. The kick was good and Patterson went up 7-0 with 7:09 to go in the first quarter.

Escalon answered back, with rushes from James Hill, Adrian Cortes and Josh Miguel getting them up the field. Quarterback Gino Franceschetti then connected with Matt Roberson for a 27-yard pick up on a third and four to keep the drive going.

Josh Miguel scored from the 16-yard line with 2:15 to go in the quarter to get Escalon on the board. A bad snap on the point after attempt was gathered in by holder Brandon Shaw, who scampered wide and dove into the end zone for the 2-point conversion. That gave Escalon an 8-7 lead and capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive.

The teams traded possessions in the second quarter until Patterson came up with a huge play on a third and 3, the pass play going 64 yards for a touchdown and the point after, the Tigers taking a 14-8 lead with 4:45 to play in the second quarter.

Again, Escalon answered back quickly, making some headway up field on their next possession and Franceschetti finding Shaw on a 65-yard pass play into the end zone. The kick was good and the Cougars were back on top, 15-14 with 3:48 remaining in the half. But Patterson proved to be just as quick and regained the lead with a drive that resulted in a 22-yard touchdown pass and the 2-point conversion with 2:17 to play. That gave the Tigers a 22-15 lead and neither team would find the end zone again the rest of the night.

"Giving one up fast, just before half, that kind of took the wind out of us and it gave them the momentum for the second half," Loureiro explained.

Escalon got the ball to start the second half but was not able to convert and the teams battled back and forth throughout the third and fourth quarters, each getting close to the end zone but not able to punch it through.

Still, Escalon was driving at the end of the game, hoping for that last gasp miracle pass. Time expired before it came.

"That's a game we could have won," Loureiro admitted. "That was an excellent football game. We played very well."

Key was Patterson being able to get the stop on Escalon defensively, three crucial stops to end drives.

"We won't face a better front seven players on defense," said Loureiro. "They have one of the best front seven I've seen in years. And our kids played really well up front ... that game made us better."

Statistically, the game was close, from total yardage - 328 for Patterson, 317 for Escalon - to first downs, 12 for Escalon, 14 for Patterson. The Cougars rushed 38 times for 143 yards, completed 9-of-20 pass attempts for 174 yards and had one penalty for 15 yards. They fumbled twice and lost it both times. Patterson rushed 34 times for 148 yards and completed 10-of-19 passes for 180 yards. The Tigers were penalized six times for 45 yards and lost one of three fumbles. Each team threw an interception.

"We didn't capitalize on our opportunities," Loureiro said.

Kudos, however, went to several players for outstanding nights in spite of taking the loss.

"Gino Franceschetti, that's a lot of pressure for a junior and he threw for 170 yards ... there's probably a couple of times he should have thrown the ball away instead of taking a sack but that's just learning the game at this level," Loureiro said. "On the offensive line, Dylan Cathcart did a good job and Matt Roberson at tight end, he caught a couple of nice balls and did a good job blocking."

Defensively, Victor Carrillo paced the team with 10 tackles, while Josh Miguel added eight tackles and one interception, while Ian Fitzgerald had seven tackles.

The Cougars are unaccustomed to losing at home, especially in the season opener, and some were having a tough time dealing with the outcome. But Loureiro assured them that they met the Patterson challenge head on, and got better for the experience.

"The sun's coming up tomorrow," Loureiro told the team on Friday night. "Don't worry, come back Monday, work hard, we're getting it done. I guarantee you we're getting it done this year."


The Cougars head out on the road this week, traveling to Dixon for a Friday night match, Sept. 24. The host Rams, green and white, play in the Golden Empire League and are coached by Scott Winslow. Team captains are senior Luke Cunningham, 5-9, 170, a cornerback/running back; Marco Pangelinan, junior, a wide receiver and safety; and senior Ryan Baptiste, 6-1, 205, a quarterback and an inside linebacker.

"They're 0-3 right now but they've been a playoff team the last few years," Loureiro said. "They took some heavy losses to graduation and they've also had some injuries early."

The Rams lost a close game, 14-7, to Winters in their last contest and will be looking to get back on track against the visiting Cougars.

"They run some Wing-T, do some spread offense, they will run the ball more than they throw it," Loureiro said.

Dixon has been outscored 68-20 in their three games so far, as trips to the end zone have been hard to come by for the Rams. Loureiro is hoping the same holds true this week; he is looking to get some solid playing time for his second and third units ahead of opening up Trans-Valley League play on Oct. 1.

"For us, it's a long trip," Loureiro said. "We'll continue to work hard this week, it would be nice to get some other kids some playing time."

The JV kicks off Friday night action in Dixon at 5:30 p.m. with the varsity game following at about 7:30 p.m.