In a game where conditions got progressively worse and points were hard to come by, the Escalon JV Cougars prevailed in their final home football game of the season, topping Ripon by a 9-0 final.
The game on Friday, Oct. 31 was played in a steady rain and the first points went on the board courtesy of a field goal.
“It was the only field goal we have attempted all year,” said JV head coach Andrew Beam. “Hugo Alcala hit it from 25 yards out.”
The kick came late in the second quarter, putting the host Cougars up by a 3-0 score.
“It was a great snap and hold,” Beam said of Tanner McCrary making the snap and C.J. Gumbs getting the ball down for the hold prior to Alcala making the kick.
On the ensuing kickoff, with the Indians looking to take the lead into the locker room, Escalon’s Julio Mendoza made a hit on the ball carrier, hard enough to cause a fumble, and Tim Costa recovered the ball for the Cougars.
“Then Tanner McCrary caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Azevedo to end the first half,” Beam said.
That made it a 9-0 Escalon lead. From there, the coach noted, the Cougars went into protect mode and worked to limit the scoring opportunities for their opponent in the second half while also being careful when they had possession.
“It was all about taking care of the football,” Beam said.
Ripon had a hard time protecting the ball, fumbling six times on the night in the less-than-optimal conditions.
Beam said his playbook was also limited in the rain, only running a handful of different plays while staying focused on ball control.
“We protected the ball and were able to run out the time,” he said.
The Cougars got strong efforts out of Mendoza, Jake Lawrence and Ulysses Murga, all of whom contributed tackles, forced fumbles and sacks to lead the defense.
“Marc Camarena had an interception, Rex Robbins had a fumble recovery,” Beam said. “Hugo Alcala had a fumble recovery, C.J. Gumbs had a fumble recovery.”
It seemed like every time the Indians lost control, the Cougars were there to take over. But both teams rolled up over 130 yards of total offense, 135 for Ripon, 137 for Escalon.
“We only had two turnovers, they had six and I think that’s what decided the game,” Beam said.
Escalon improved to 3-1 in league, 5-4 overall and travel this week to Modesto Christian to finish up their campaign. Hilmar, undefeated at the JV level, leads the league while Ripon dropped to 6-3 overall with the loss to the Cougars.