A tough, back-and-forth battle on the gridiron saw Escalon’s JV boys capture the victory on Friday night, handing visiting Livingston a 26-20 defeat.
“We scored the first touchdown of the game, Shane Campbell picked up a fumble and returned it 60 yards for the touchdown,” said coach Brant Rose.
Though they missed the extra point, Escalon took the early 6-0 lead.
But the Wolves cashed in on a Cougar miscue to even the score.
“Livingston scored, after an interception, they were able to move the ball and scored and then we blocked the point after to make it 6-6,” Rose noted.
The JV Cougars were able to grab the momentum late in the second, scoring with just 10 seconds left in the half.
“That was on a 54-yard pass from Ty Harris to Eli Lattig and that was a huge momentum booster,” said Rose.
Trying for the 2-point conversion, the Cougars didn’t get it but did go into the half with a 12-6 lead.
Livingston got the second half kickoff but was held off, forcing the punt. Another interception on the Cougars’ next possession set Livingston up at the 5-yard line, however, and they were able to go in from there, then added the kick for a 13-12 lead.
Things fell apart a little for the host squad then, as they had to punt on their next possession and Livingston blocked it at the 10-yard line, cashing in a couple of plays later with another touchdown and point after to send the lead to 20-12 at the end of the third quarter.
Fourth quarter action saw what appeared to be a Cougar touchdown called back after an inadvertent whistle ruled the play dead before the runner crossed the goal line.
“After that, Ty Harris ran it in from two yards out and we went for two, Jaden Fontes scored on the conversion to make it 20-20,” Rose explained.
Livingston’s next possession was stopped short when Aidan Krieger stepped in front of a Wolves pass and picked it off, setting up what turned out to be the winning drive of the game. Harris scored from three yards out at the end of the possession and it was 26-20, after the extra point attempted was missed.
Visiting Livingston could not find the end zone again, though, and the JV boys had the win in hard.
“We played sloppy but our guys fought, they did show resilience and came back in that fourth quarter after being down,” Rose said.
Escalon improved to 4-1 in Trans-Valley League play and will look to cap off the season with a win on the road at Hughson on Friday night, Oct. 26.
In what likely was their season finale, as Hughson does not have a freshman team, the Escalon frosh boys traveled to Livingston on Oct. 18 and took a 27-12 loss in the contest.
Down 13-6 at the half, the young Cougars scored in the first quarter and again in the third but had some miscues that gave Livingston opportunities to put points on the scoreboard.
Escalon’s first touchdown came on a pass play from quarterback Josh Miller to Chris Vidales, with the point after attempt blocked.
“It was from 15, maybe 18 yards out,” explained head coach Joey Costa. “In the third quarter, Austin Roberts scored on a rushing touchdown; we went for two but didn’t get the play off.”
Livingston was able to get off a few big plays as opposed to sustained drives and Costa said his team also helped their opponents.
“We had some penalties and an interception, we left some points on the table,” said the coach. “We couldn’t tackle very well.”
Miller played well again at quarterback, while Roberts did his part in catching passes and churning up yards for the youngest Cougar squad. Also, the team moved Edwin Selquero to fullback for the contest and he did a good job running the ball, said Costa.
From the start of the season to the game at Livingston, Costa said the team learned a lot, improved and had the opportunity to get in plenty of work, which is crucial at this stage of their high school careers.
“Andrew (varsity head coach Andrew Beam) is committed to keeping the freshman team going and a lot of kids got a lot of playing time,” Costa said. “The record doesn’t give the full story of how well they played, how much better they got. They’re learning how to compete; they’re learning how to be Cougars.”