A back and forth contest saw the visiting JV Escalon Cougars come away with a hard fought victory on Friday night, defeating the Downey Knights, 25-19.
As the teams traded touchdowns, it turned out to be a defensive play that finally sealed the win for Escalon.
“Matthew Baptista intercepted a Downey pass at the 5-yard line with 47 seconds left in the game,” JV head coach Brant Rose said, noting that the pick stopped the Downey drive and gave Escalon the opportunity to take a knee and run out the clock.
Escalon scored in the first quarter on a 1-yard plunge from JP Lial with Andres Beltran adding the point after for a 7-0 lead. The teams traded scores in the second quarter, Downey on an 11-yard run, 2-point attempt failed, and Escalon on another Lial score, the kick was no good for a 13-6 Cougar lead at the half.
Downey made it 13-13 with a rushing touchdown in the third quarter, Escalon then went up 19-13 on a 3-yard run by Lial; the 2-point attempt was no good.
“Downey scored on a 12-yard run in the fourth to tie the game, 19-19,” Rose said. “Matthew Baptista scored in the fourth on a 30-yard touchdown run.”
The Cougars tried the 2-point conversion but were stopped, taking a 25-19 lead.
With the defensive stand in the closing seconds, they brought the win home.
Leading 13-0 at the half on Thursday night, Sept. 12, the freshman team saw things unravel in the second half. They dropped a 20-13 decision to visiting Los Banos.
“Ryker Peters scored a touchdown in each of the first and second quarters,” said head coach Joey Costa.
The team made one of the two extra points and seemed to have a comfortable lead with the 13-0 advantage over the Tigers.
But Los Banos recovered an onside kick to start the second half and that’s when things started to turn around.
“I believe winning is a learned habit,” said Costa. “Our confidence waned in the second half.”
After Los Banos covered the onside kick, Cota said you could see and feel the momentum turning. Still, he said, his team battled.
“I was very proud of the fact that they continued to fight,” he said. “We also had three guys out for this game and my quarterback is a little beat up.”
He pointed to strong games from David Silva, Ayden Wilson, Tate Christensen and CJ Miller for the frosh squad.
“In three games, I feel we’ve been the better team,” he said.
But that hasn’t yet translated into a win.
“We’ll keep fighting,” Costa said.