Exactly what head coach Mark Loureiro didn’t want to happen happened on Friday night, and the varsity football Cougars came out on the wrong end of a 47-34 final score against the visiting Patterson Tigers.
With a total of 12 touchdowns scored in the game, Escalon just made a few more costly mistakes and had a hard time trying to shut down the explosive Patterson offense.
“The two styles don’t match up well early in the year,” Loureiro said of the finesse and speed of the Tigers against the grit of the workmanlike Cougars. “We had the better team, they had the better athletes. It’s hard to see that speed in a game when you haven’t had it in practice and we didn’t tackle well at all.”
Offensively, the Cougars were able to move the ball against Patterson and rolled up 400 yards of their own on the night.
“We only punted twice, had 20 first downs,” Loureiro pointed out. “Offensively, I was very surprised and pleased.”
Wesley Dick was the workhorse on the night, carrying the ball 32 times for 206 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Quarterback Caleb Mullen completed eight of 14 passes for 92 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Brandon Grogan had five catches for 65 yards.
“Christian May showed flashes of what he can do, he had an electrifying 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to keep us in it,” Loureiro said. “But we have to go back to the drawing board on defense; we didn’t play with a lot of passion and energy, and that surprised me.”
Scoring by quarters saw visiting Patterson with six points on the board in the first quarter and 20 in the second, adding 21 more in the final frame. Escalon had seven points in each of the first and second quarters, trailing 26-14 at the half, added seven in the third and 13 in the fourth.
“We had three turnovers, two when we were getting ready to score,” Loureiro said of the only real offensive issues during the game, noting the players need to take better care of the ball in the red zone.
Escalon’s first touchdown of the season came on a 14-yard pass from Mullen to Dustin Lawrence and the point after attempt by David Martinez was good to put Escalon up 7-0 with 5:59 to play in the opening quarter.
With 1:54 to play, Patterson took an Escalon punt to the house for six points, the ensuing point after blocked by Logan Widmer to keep it 7-6.
A 13-yard run by Dick early in the second quarter, kick good by Martinez, put Escalon up 14-6 but that was quickly answered by the Tigers on a 65-yard run. The 2-point conversion was knocked away by Javier Perez, Escalon maintaining a 14-12 lead.
Two more scores for the Tigers lit up the board before the first half was over, including an 80-yard pass play, kick good and the Tigers then capitalized on an interception, scoring the final touchdown of the first half with just seconds remaining. With the point after good, it was a 26-14 Tiger lead at the half.
Second half saw the Cougars kick off to Patterson and hold them to a quick three and out, then going on a scoring run of their own, Mullen hooking up with Grogan for the pass play and Martinez adding the point after. That trimmed the lead to 26-21 with 7:59 left in the third.
Patterson scored early in the fourth on a rushing touchdown to make it 33-21 and that’s when May broke his 94-yard kickoff return to keep the Cougars in contention. The point after was no good, but the lead was 33-27. The Tigers would answer with a touchdown with 9:52 to play, going up 40-27, Dick made it 40-34 with a 4-yard rushing score (kick good) and the Tigers sealed the win with a rushing touchdown with 5:26 to go in the game, up 47-34.
“The offensive line did a good job,” starting quarterback Mullen said. “The pass protection was great. Defensively, we need to work on tackling and wrap people up.”
May agreed, saying that the offensive line had a “good push”: all night but the squad needs to come out more aggressively on defense.
“We can bounce back,” May said.
Escalon had 20 first downs on the night to Patterson’s 10 and 400 yards of offense to the 451 of the Tigers. Rushing plays, it was 55 for 308 yards for Escalon and they also had 92 passing yards. Three penalties were committed by the Cougars for 25 yards. They lost one fumble.
Patterson had 28 rushing plays for 297 yards, added 154 passing yards and had 10 penalties for 105 yards.
Defensive leaders for Escalon were A.J. Camarena with nine tackles, Adam Roberson with two sacks, Matthew Gallego and Travis Nascimento with one sack apiece.
Camarena gave kudos to sophomore brothers Blue and Bo Capps for stepping up as underclassmen and said the loss to Patterson just makes the team “very hungry” for a win against Calaveras in their next game, Sept. 5.
“I think we had some first game jitters,” Grogan admitted. “We came out a little flat but we’re going to come out and practice hard, work on defense. We have to play each practice like the game, no days off.”