Fighting it out all night long with a first time foe, the Escalon JV Cougars couldn’t quite keep visiting Liberty Ranch from sneaking away from Engel Field with a win.
“It was a really, really tough game, a tough one to lose,” said first year head coach Andrew Beam. “We lost 10-7.”
Liberty Ranch had taken an early lead, converting on a field goal to cap their first offensive possession of the game, going up 3-0 in the Sept. 19 game.
Neither team would get on the board again until late in the fourth quarter, when the host JV Cougars got their first points of the contest and took the lead.
“We had a six-and-a-half minute drive in the fourth quarter, capped off with a 27-yard touchdown run by C.J. Gumbs to give us the first lead of the game,” Beam explained.
But that was quickly followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called against the Cougars for excessive celebration after the score.
Beam feels the call was unwarranted and that it more than likely influenced the outcome, as the penalty forced a tough kickoff.
“It was a really bad call, I feel, on the ref, he called us for unsportsmanlike conduct, celebrating after the touchdown,” said Beam. “I watched the film, you hate to see the ref get involved like that, it kind of bothered us as coaches.”
The penalty impacted the team and they ended up losing the game on a touchdown with less than 20 seconds to play.
“We had a bad kick on the kickoff, they had really good field position with a couple of minutes to go and they scored a touchdown with about 14 seconds left in the game to go ahead and win,” Beam said.
Even giving up the late touchdown, the coach said there were things the JV team could have done more efficiently and effectively throughout the game.
“We have to do a better job in the first three quarters to not put ourselves in a situation like that,” Beam said of having to come from behind. “We struggled to move the ball early, we had a couple of penalties that stalled drives.”
Despite the loss, there were some solid performances for the JV team.
Quarterback Dylan Azevedo was 4-for-8 with 74 yards passing, Tyler Swinford carried the ball 16 times for 58 yards and C.J. Gumbs had eight carries for 46 yards and a touchdown.
“Tanner McCrary had three catches for 59 yards,” Beam added. “Defensively, Marc Camarena had nine tackles, Azevedo had six tackles and Hugo Alcala had six tackles and one interception.”
This week, the team heads to Bear River for their final non-league game, playing at Lake of the Pines on Friday night at 5:30 p.m.
“It will be a long bus ride, hopefully we can get back on the winning track before league starts,” Beam said.
The team will have its bye week on Oct. 3 before starting Trans-Valley League play on Oct. 10 on the road at Hughson.