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Varsity Football - Cougars Keep Playoff Hopes Alive With Win
1106 May
Escalons Christian May, 32, turns upfield for a gain against Modesto Christian on Friday night. He had a big run to set up one score, a pass reception to set up another. Marg Jackson/The Times

Escalon outplayed Modesto Christian for a solid three quarters, and the final score was not indicative of how in control the Cougars were … as they walked off with a 21-13 win over the Crusaders in varsity football action Friday night.

“It was of major importance that we got that victory,” said head coach Mark Loureiro. “We played well for three quarters, then got a little sloppy with our tackling, the score looks closer than it was and we were never in danger of losing.”

The win sets Escalon up for a likely playoff berth, provided they top Riverbank on Friday, Nov. 8 at Engel Field. That game will begin with the Senior Night Ceremony at 7 p.m., followed by the varsity kickoff. There is no JV game, as Riverbank dropped its JV program.

“The kids came out well prepared,” Loureiro said of his team facing off with visiting Modesto Christian, which has some weapons but not much depth this season.

“Both our outside backs did a tremendous job, Javier Perez with seven tackles, Tyler Lawrence with six tackles and a sack,” explained Loureiro. “We also got good efforts out of Lance Davis, he once again led us with nine tackles, and Jack Ballard had a good game on defense so I was happy with that situation there.”

Escalon had single scores in the first, second and third quarters to build up a 21-0 lead before Modesto Christian clawed closer with a pair of fourth quarter scores.

“Offensively, we had enough to win,” said Loureiro. “We had a big night from Christian May, he had nine carries for 106 yards including a 42-yard run that set up a touchdown and a big 38-yard reception that set up a touchdown.”

Frankie Bavaro was again a workhorse, 20 carries for 77 yards and two scores, while Wesley Dick came in and ran hard in the second half, six carries for 35 yards.

“We got the lead and sat on the ball a little bit, didn’t take any chances,” Loureiro said.

The strategy worked, with the Cougars having enough to get the win and improve to 3-2 in league play.

Escalon’s first touchdown came on a Tyler Lawrence 12-yard run with the point after kick good by Thomas Diniz; Bavaro scored on a 1-yard plunge, set up by the May scamper, kick good by Diniz; Bavaro added a second half 4-yard scoring run with the kick good by Diniz to close out the Cougar offensive attack. Modesto Christian countered with a pair of scoring runs by their quarterback, one from 30 yards and one from 8 yards.

The Cougars had a total of 293 yards of offense to the 193 of Modesto Christian, with 255 yards rushing and 38 yards passing for Escalon, 116 yards rushing and 77 passing for MC. Both teams lost one fumble and each team had plenty of penalties. Modesto Christian had eight penalties for 60 yards, Escalon had nine for 85.

“Both teams were guilty of playing up to and sometimes past the whistle,” admitted Loureiro.

But the goal for Escalon was to win the game and, with a win this coming Friday against Riverbank, that should be enough to get them into the postseason.

“Barring a meltdown against Riverbank, this should get us into the playoffs,” Loureiro said. “I doubt if we will be at home (to start postseason) but our strength of schedule should get us a good draw.”

Senior players, cheerleaders and their parents will be recognized before the start of Friday night’s game and Loureiro is hoping for a good crowd for the home finale.

“They deserve to go out with a victory” Loureiro said of his seniors, playing at home for likely the last time. “We want to get a lead, get a lot of kids some playing time, that’s the plan.”