It was pretty close to what they expected.
That, according to Escalon JV football head coach Brant Rose, who saw his team take its first loss of the season on Friday night. Hilmar came in and left Engel Field with a hard fought 14-7 win.
“We knew this was going to be our toughest game,” Rose said. “They had only given up one touchdown all season long coming in.”
Neither team could get too much going in the entire first half, as the defenses for both the Yellowjackets and Cougars kept things under control and didn’t allow any serious offensive threats.
The second half is where the visiting Hilmar squad made a statement.
“They went on a nine-and-a-half minute drive to open up the second half, that drive was just demoralizing, they ran 19 plays,” said Rose. “Ultimately they went in on a 2-yard run, with the kick good, to take a 7-0 lead.”
By the time the Cougars got the ball in the third quarter, they had time for only one play, as just 30 seconds remained.
“In the fourth quarter we showed some resilience,” Rose explained.
Quarterback Ty Harris made something happen on a third down play, scrambling to get away from the defense and picking up a crucial first down on a 27-yard run. The Yellowjackets then got flagged for a 15-yard personal foul for a late hit on Harris out of bounds, giving the Cougars good field position.
“We got a couple of runs by Jaden Fontes for 10 yards and then Harris scored on a five-yard run,” Rose said.
With the extra point kicked through by Miguel Sandoval, it was a 7-7 game with about five minutes left in the contest. The Yellowjackets offense was able to put another drive together and on a third and goal inside the 10, the Hilmar runner took it in from four yards out. The extra point was good and it was a 14-7 lead for the visitors with just 18 seconds left to play.
The Cougars didn’t have enough time to answer the late Yellowjacket score, falling in their Trans-Valley League season opener.
“We battled them, I would say we definitely gave a winning effort,” Rose added.
Escalon managed just 77 yards of total offense on the night, with the coach noting that he was a little surprised they were able to score at all, as the Yellowjackets have been very stingy in allowing opponents to score this season.
“That’s a tough team,” Rose admitted. “I’d be surprised if they lose a game. But I was proud of our kids, they battled back.”
The JV team will have to shake off the loss quickly, as they head to Modesto Christian for a road game on Friday, Sept. 28 to face another TVL juggernaut.
“We’ve got to be ready to go or this could be one that gets past us,” Rose said. “They have only 17 players but they are tough to beat. If we get the effort like we did against Hilmar, I like our chances.”
Kickoff will be 5:30 p.m. Friday at Modesto Christian.
Escalon’s freshmen had the chance to travel to Hilmar on Thursday and though they took the loss, first year head coach Joey Costa said they did get on the scoreboard.
“The final score was 33-6. Josh Miller had an interception returned for a touchdown as our only score,” Costa said. “Edwin Seguro, Cameron Loureiro, Josh Miller, Cameron Cox, Alphonso Gonzalez and Austin Roberts were standout players.”
Though the team has little playing experience as a whole, Costa said they are showing improvement on a weekly basis and was pleased to see them get some points on the board.
The freshmen will be at home this week, hosting Sierra on Thursday, Sept. 27 with a 6 p.m. start time.