Pushing Patterson harder than they have been pushed all season, the Escalon varsity football team tied the game late in regulation to force overtime on the road Friday night.
Patterson eventually prevailed, 27-24, but not before each team had two overtime possessions and the Tigers were given a taste of what a good football team is.
Escalon fell behind by a 14-0 margin before responding with a pair of second half scores to knot the game, and narrowly missed a winning field goal in the waning seconds, the kick coming up a bit short and sending the teams into OT.
“Another one,” head coach Mark Loureiro said of adding to the thrilling nailbiters the Cougars have become adept at being a part of during the football season. “The kids could have laid down there, down 14-0, but we outplayed them in the first half and the kids fought hard, competed well.”
Patterson’s first score, in fact, came on an interception and they didn’t get much offense of their own, unable to score at will as they have on teams they faced earlier in the preseason.
Loureiro said it was an especially spectacular night for Frankie Bavaro, who found a way to run all over the Tigers.
“He ran 36 times for over 160 yards,” Loureiro said. “What they were giving up on defense, taking away the outside, Frankie responded inside with a great game for us.”
Bavaro charged up the middle for the bulk of his carries and gave the Cougars some momentum as they looked to chip away on the lead in the second half.
“When somebody is getting that many yards, you know the line is blocking on offense,” Loureiro said.
He pointed to the efforts of Clayton Akers, Lance Davis, Dominic Freeseha, Luis Estrada, Jack Ballard and Adam Roberson as helping open up the holes for Bavaro to squeeze through.
“Our defense played a great game, we held them to a total of 193 yards,” the coach added. “Collin Strasser had a major game, 13 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery.
“Lance Davis had 11 tackles, Akers had four tackles and a sack, Josh Redding had a fumble recovery for us.”
Patterson scored its first touchdown in the second quarter, returning the intercepted pass 12 yards for the score and adding the point after to go up 7-0. A 27-yard pass play in the third quarter, kick good, made it 14-0 Patterson before Escalon started its comeback.
“We scored on a 13-play drive, took seven minutes off the clock, the touchdown came on a 6-yard run by Bavaro with the kick good by Thomas Diniz,” said Loureiro.
That made it 14-7 and, after a fumble recovery by the Cougars, they evened things up on a Christian May 4-yard touchdown run late in the fourth, the kick good by Diniz, to knot it at 14-14.
“Our pass rush was good, we had good pressure on their quarterback and when we kept him in the pocket, he played small,” Loureiro said of limiting the damage from the explosive signal caller of the Tigers. “They’ve blown the three teams out they played before, so their starters haven’t had to play a full game.”
Patterson showed definite signs of slowing down and was lucky to get the win.
A bad snap on Escalon’s field goal attempt late in the game saw the ball go off a little wobbly, falling short of the uprights. It was within the range of Diniz but Loureiro said he was still pleased to push the Tigers into the overtime period.
Patterson scored on the first play of the OT and Escalon answered on the final play of their four-down possession, Ben Hood connecting with Zachary Withrow on a pass play for the score.
In the second overtime, Escalon had to settle for a field goal, Diniz hitting from 24-yards out, while Patterson was able to score a touchdown on a pass play on their third play to take the win.
“We fought to the end but 6-3 out jumps 5-10 every time,” Loureiro said of the match up in the end zone, Patterson offense vs. Escalon defense.
“This showed our kids that we can compete against a good team on the road,” Loureiro said, noting that many players contributed and the team got better in the contest.
“We had three or four penalties, though, shot ourselves in the foot when we were driving in that first half,” said Loureiro.
The team made adjustments at halftime and came out much stronger.
“Especially in the second half, we had more fire, we took it to the next level,” Withrow said. “Like coach said, everyone is 0-0 in league, now we start.”
Jacob Salvador said the Cougars had to clean things up in the second half to be competitive and they did that.
“We stooped to their level in the first half, coach enlightened us at halftime and we came out fighting hard for the second half, playing Escalon football,” Salvador said.
Trans-Valley League play starts on Friday, with the Cougars back on the road, this time to take on the Ripon Indians. Ripon has been tearing it up in preseason, its most recent win a 43-0 shutout of Lathrop, to improve to 4-0. Head coach is Chris Johnson and the Indians run both the Wing T and fly sweeps out of the shotgun formation.
“They have a lot of athletic ability and speed,” said Loureiro.
Leading players are running back/linebacker Michael Ysit, 5-9, 175; receiver/defensive back Bradley Clark, 5-7, 155; sophomore quarterback Nick Price, 5-10, 170; linebacker/running back Michael Morris, 5-10, 220; and linemen Kody Day, 6-2, 225 and Robert Taylor, 6-1, 210.
“They return some key kids off their championship (TVL) team and have some good kids up from the JV,” Loureiro said. “Ripon is on a great run of athletes right now, hopefully we can bounce back (from Patterson loss) and fight hard.”
Game time in Ripon is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27.