Coming off an emotional Homecoming win over rival Hughson, the Escalon Cougars kept it rolling and took a decisive 48-13 win off the field against host Orestimba on Oct. 11.
It took three touchdowns for Escalon to get its first score on the board, two scores called back on penalties, including a quarterback scramble by Ben Hood that saw him zigzag the field, evading tacklers and finding the end zone, only to have it called back.
But the third time was the charm, as Brandon Grogan got the reception for the score and the Cougars were off and running.
A few bizarre calls – including a late game interception by Thomas Diniz in the end zone that was pulled out of his hands by the Orestimba player after they had both fallen on the ground – was instead ruled a touchdown for the host team. Orestimba was able to move the ball effectively to get several first downs on the night, but their scoring opportunities were limited by an aggressive Cougar defense and head coach Mark Loureiro said it was a good team win.
A couple of downfalls in the contest were injuries to Luis Estrada – a knee/leg injury suffered on the opening kickoff – and a shoulder injury re-aggravated by Collin Strasser. Estrada was out for the game, Strasser did not play in the second half.
The good news, said Loureiro, is that with a bye this week, the team has some time to heal and rest, and prepare for what will be a major road game against Hilmar on Oct. 25.
“The kids have been working hard in practice, this was a good game, a solid win for us,” Loureiro said. “This bye comes at a great time, hopefully it gives us time to get healthy.”
Escalon ran out to a 34-0 lead at the half.
“That left an impression,” Loureiro said of the Warriors being a bit shell shocked.
Offensive leaders for the Cougars were Christian May, three carries for 104 yards including a 94-yard touchdown run and, on special teams, an 85-yard kickoff return for a score. Brandon Grogan had a touchdown catch, the pass from Ben Hood, Frankie Bavaro had a pair of touchdowns and Wesley Dick added a score as well.
Loureiro said it seemed like each time a call went against the Cougars, they dug in and made something good happen the next play.
“The kids kept their composure, kept their focus,” he said.
Scoring for Escalon included an 18-yard reception by Grogan, with the kick by Diniz no good. The other six point after attempts by Diniz did go through the uprights, coming after a 7-yard run by Bavaro, a 94-yard run from May, 20 yards from Dick, 4 from Bavaro, a 24-yard run by Josh Redding and the capper 85 yard return by May. Orestimba had a pair of touchdown passes on the night.
“A.J. Camarena had a fumble recovery, Indiana Moorehead, Andrew Panero and Travis Parks, as our seconds, played well, as did Thomas Diniz on defense and Jorge Cortez,” Loureiro said.
Escalon had 338 yards to the 264 for Orestimba, 307 of the Cougars’ yards coming on the ground.
Also running hard on the night was Lestat Velasquez.
“I knew this was going to be an easier team to face (than Hughson),” he said, noting that he was happy to carry the ball and churn up some yardage to get the team into scoring position.
Junior Adam Roberson was actively involved in the win, leading the defense.
“We just needed to stay focused,” he said of taking it to the Warriors early, adding that they will take that approach heading to Hilmar later this month. “We still have bigger games ahead.”