Giving up a late first half touchdown on the road, Escalon’s varsity football team knew they had to be better over the third and fourth quarters.
They were, putting 28 points on the board in the second half at Mountain House on Friday night and coming away with an important 42-14 Trans-Valley League victory.
For Escalon, it was the first TVL win of the season, now 1-1 in league, 3-4 overall, and was one step toward securing a playoff spot. Three teams from the Trans-Valley League will go to the playoffs this season, and Escalon wants one of those spots.
Rain that fell intermittently during Friday’s JV contest cleared away for the varsity, though the ball remained a little slick and the footing a bit uncertain. The Cougars again were without two-way starter C.J. Gumbs but multiple players stepped up to insure the Escalon victory.
Four different players scored touchdowns for Escalon as the offense was able to get into gear against the host Mustangs.
Escalon started the night by receiving the kickoff and going on a 12-play, five-minute drive that ended with an 8-yard rushing touchdown from Tim Costa. The point after was good by Rodrigo DeMelo and at 7-0, the Cougars had the early lead.
They added another touchdown in the second quarter, Jake Lewis powering through on a nice 46-yard run, DeMelo added the kick and it was 14-0.
It looked as though that would be the score at the half but Mountain House was determined to get in the end zone, connecting on a 9-yard pass play with just 18 seconds to go in the half. They added the point after to trim the lead to 14-7.
“I really wasn’t pleased with them,” head coach Mark Loureiro said of the defensive effort on the final Mustang drive of the first half. “I was upset.”
To that end, Loureiro said he didn’t talk much to the team at halftime, letting some of the younger coaches have their say. He also noted that the team members had a lot to say to each other as well, also unhappy with the late score.
“The kids were angry amongst themselves,” Loureiro said. “We played at a different speed and with a different attitude in that second half.”
Nick DeWeerd had a pair of interceptions on the night, both of which set up Cougar touchdowns. Costa, 7-yard run and Lewis, 21-yard run, found the end zone in the third quarter, DeMelo adding the extra points.
Two more scores came in the fourth, Mark DeHaven going in from 2 yards out and Elliott Mello taking it in from 3 yards out, DeMelo again putting on the points after. Mountain House countered with a 5-yard quarterback run in the fourth but couldn’t get any closer than the 42-14 final.
“Cuyler Crawford had nine tackles and one sack,” Loureiro said of the strong defensive effort. “We also got some great play from Estephan Salcedo, he had six tackles and a couple of big hits.”
Chance Bollen, Mello and Blue Capps had seven tackles each, Bo Capps added five tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
“Although we had some bad plays, we recovered from them, our defense got it together,” Mello said of rebounding in the second half. “We went form a team kind of playing together to one really playing together well and it was a lot of fun at the end of the game.”
DeWeerd, who stepped up his defensive game, said everyone knew the importance of getting that all-important league victory.
“I knew we had to capitalize, pick up the momentum,” said DeWeerd of keeping the pressure on the Mustangs.
Escalon had two 100-yard rushers, Lewis had 16 carries for 168 yards and Costa carried the ball 20 times for 137 yards.
“We got a nice push by the kids,” said Loureiro. “We were pleased, the kids played with a lot more energy in the second half, we really imposed our will on the offensive line.”
Escalon had 17 first downs, 406 total yards with 398 rushing yards on 52 carries. They completed one pass for eight yards, fumbled once but retained possession and had four penalties for 30 yards. Mountain House had 13 first downs, 279 total yards, 35 rushing plays for 126 yards and had 11 pass completions for 153 yards, along with the two interceptions. The Mustangs fumbled once and lost it, they were penalized seven times for 60 yards.
“We got a lot of kids in the game and it was a nice win to get,” Loureiro said. “We were due.”
The Cougars come home for Senior Night this week, hosting longtime rival Ripon in the Oct. 21 contest.