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Playoff Win - Powerful Cougars Run Past Calaveras In Opening Round
Calaveras got tired of hearing it ... but the Escalon crowd didn't, as Nathan Chunn found the end zone five times in the first half and helped carry the Cougars to a first round Sac-Joaquin Section football playoff win on Friday night.

The number eight seeded Cougars toppled visiting number nine Calaveras by a 44-14 final and once Chunn got going, there wasn't much the Redskins could do to stop him.

"Our linemen just came out and they handled that defense," Chunn said of his teammates. "They opened some of the best holes we've had all season."

Chunn didn't miss a beat - or a hole - as he shredded the Calaveras defense for rushing touchdowns of 3 and 4 yards in the first quarter, 46, 47 and 2 yards in the second quarter.

"Every week you think, what can top this? And then he goes and tops it," head coach Mark Loureiro said of the amazing performance from Chunn. "He had 28 carries for 267 yards and five touchdowns; I would think that would have to be a record here at Escalon, just amazing."

What the offensive line and Chunn did also helped Escalon maintain possession and ball control, rarely letting Calaveras get anything going.

"We ran 35 plays to their 20 in the first half, 67 to 36 for the game, almost double," Loureiro explained.

Chunn gave credit to his linemen and Loureiro said it was well earned.

"Joey Gutierrez under center, Troy Doggett, Alan Gonzalez, week after week, they just perform," Loureiro said.

Also earning kudos were Tyson Pomicpic, Brent Montgomery, Vince Valenzuela and the tight tends of Alex Loureiro and Andrew Zavala, along with blocking fullbacks Johnathon Costa and Robbie Steves.

"And Chunn gets a lot of yards after contact," noted Loureiro. "He understands this offense, he keeps his feet moving, he falls forward."

For the coach, it was a game where he would have liked to have seen a better crowd - the stands at Engel Field weren't full on the home side - but he couldn't be prouder of what the team accomplished.

"The game meant a lot to me, more than just a win in the first round," he explained. "It was about those senior kids, people told us 'you graduated all those kids' (from last year) and wondered how we would compete ... I was so proud, this year's seniors rose to the challenge."

Escalon won the toss on Friday night and kicked off, with Calaveras failing to convert on what looked to be a touchdown, if the receiver had held on to the ball.

Escalon's first possession of the night ended with a Chunn touchdown, a methodical Cougar march down the field until the bruising runner took it in from short yardage. Thomas Diniz added the extra point for the early 7-0 lead. Late in the first, Chunn again found the end zone but this time the kick hit the left upright and bounced off, making it 13-0 Escalon.

With 5:04 to play in the second quarter, Chunn broke a big run for the score and the kick was good to make it 20-0. After Calaveras fumbled on their next possession (recovered by Jason Robbins) the Cougars used the takeaway to put more points on the board, Chunn going in with 4:38 to play and the kick good for a 27-0 lead. A big reception by Alec VonAlvensleben from quarterback Phillip Kimble set up the score.

Things didn't get better for Calaveras on their next possession, as Ben Hood picked off a pass with 4:12 to play in the half, stopping the Redskins' drive. That set up Chunn's 47 yard rumble for the final score of the half for the home team, the kick was good by Diniz and with 3:30 to go, it was 34-0.

Calaveras did find a way to move the ball downfield with a couple of nice passes and got into the end zone with just under a minute to play but the kick was no good, the Redskins trailing 34-6 at the half.

Escalon got the ball to start the third quarter and kept it for nearly half the period before an uncharacteristic fumble near the goal line gave the ball to the Redskins. But they couldn't make anything happen and had to punt it away with 5:47 to play in the third. The Cougars were able to turn that into three points on a Diniz 36-yard field goal with 3:09 in the third, up 37-6. The ensuing kickoff hit a Calaveras player and bounced off him, gobbled up by Fernando Ceniceros for a fumble recovery. From there, Justin Camara and Frankie Bavaro started handling the ball carrying, making some nice gains with junior quarterback Ben Hood taking over under center.

Tyler Lawrence broke in to the end zone from a yard out for the Cougars early in the fourth quarter with the kick good to make it 44-6 and start a running clock. Calaveras answered back with a touchdown on an 11-yard run with 9:02 to play; they tacked on the 2-point conversion to make it 44-14 but couldn't get any closer. Lawrence ended the game with six carries for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Escalon had 20 first downs on the night and 483 yards total, with 61 rushes for 442 yards and four-of-six completions from Kimble for 41 yards. Calaveras had seven first downs, 163 yards of offense with 18 rushes for 63 yards, 7-for-18 passing with 100 yards and one interception.

"I think everyone underestimated the senior class," said Alex Loureiro, who noted he and his fellow seniors took a lot of pride in proving to people that they were capable of winning. "We worked hard in the weight room, I think we came out and proved a lot."

Enjoying the moment with his young nephew, 2-year-old Kaiden Crawford, trying his uncle's helmet on for size, Joey Gutierrez said defense was the key on Friday night.

"We played great on defense," he said of keeping Calaveras in check. "If we can bring that to Placer, we'll be okay."

Alan Gonzalez said the win provides some momentum, but the Cougars know their toughest task is definitely ahead, facing off with top seed Placer.

"We'll be ready to rock and roll," Gonzalez said. "We'll see how it goes."