A late first half touchdown and a late fourth quarter interception were crucial plays, helping the Escalon JV football team nail down a 14-7 win over Ripon on Friday night.
Hosting the Oct. 12 game at Engel Field, the JV boys were eager to get back on the gridiron, not having a game when their varsity counterparts traveled to Riverbank the week before.
“We got our first touchdown with eight seconds left in the first half,” said coach Brant Rose. “It was a six-yard pass from Ty Harris to Logan Webster and Miguel Sandoval made the kick.”
The play put Escalon up 7-0, taking that lead into halftime.
“That was a huge score because Ripon was getting the ball to start the second half and it was just a pretty huge conversion for us,” Rose explained.
Keeping the momentum on their side, the JV squad got a stop on Ripon to open up the third quarter.
“We were then able to put a drive together and it ended with a six-yard touchdown run by J.P. Lial, again the kick by Sandoval was good so that put us up 14-0 going into the fourth quarter,” Rose said.
The contest got a little closer, however, when Ripon was able to get into the end zone, converting on a 10-yard pass play and extra point to trim the lead to 14-7 with about five minutes left on the clock.
“We had to buckle down,” the coach said. “We knew this was a rivalry game, we knew we had to play four tough quarters.”
Lial came up huge for the JV squad, with 105 yards rushing on five carries, a touchdown, a couple of key receptions on Escalon drives – and perhaps the most important catch of the night.
“On defense, he had the game-sealing interception with less than two minutes left, they were driving and that interception basically ended the game,” Rose said. “We were able to take a knee and run out the clock.”
Along with Lial playing well, the coach said Jaden Fontes put together some tough yards carrying the ball, while quarterback Harris had some good pass completions and the team as a whole worked together.
“It was really a good team effort, a lot of our guys pressured their quarterback and we needed this, for sure,” Rose said of the win.
Now, they prepare for their final home game of the season, hosting Livingston on Oct. 19.
“They are pretty tough, they were right there with Ripon when they played them, they beat Hughson,” Rose noted.
The JV boys kick off their contest Friday night at 5:30 p.m., looking to get another victory at home before closing out the season on the road at Hughson on Oct. 26.
Though their game with Ripon ended with the host Escalon Cougars on the wrong side of a 19-7 final, there was plenty to be pleased about with the effort.
Head coach Joey Costa noted that the freshman team is finding its groove, improving each week and finally getting a good sense of the game.
“I wish this had been a scrimmage and we had our season ahead of us,” Costa said of the Thursday, Oct. 11 contest against visiting Ripon.
At halftime, the visitors had a 13-0 lead but Escalon came out strong in the second half, moving the ball well in the third quarter and eventually getting into the end zone. Several carries on the drive by Austin Roberts set up quarterback Josh Miller for the keeper, going in from a yard out for the score. Alfonso Gonzalez put the extra point through and with 4:15 to go in the third quarter, the freshmen closed to within 13-7.
“It’s huge,” Costa added of the team’s improvement since the start of the season. “We forced five turnovers; we were the more aggressive team Thursday night.”
The frosh boys battled with the Indians through the rest of the third quarter and on into the fourth, looking for the chance to tie or take the lead. But a late turnover by Escalon allowed Ripon to punch one in late, taking a 19-7 lead with 1:17 to play.
“Week one or two, this game is 30-0 or more, probably with a running clock,” said Costa.
Now, with solid practices and several games to their credit, the young squad has come together and put strong efforts together, at home and on the road.
“I thought Caden Gonzales played well, Cameron Loureiro and Cameron Cox did well,” Costa added. “On our offensive line, Sebastian Snow has started to take on that leadership role.”
Snow, at center, has helped key the O-line effort over the last few weeks.
Next up is a road trip to Livingston, with that game scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.
Costa is hopeful the team will have one final contest after that, though none is currently scheduled, as Hughson does not have a freshman team. If they are able to schedule a game, it would wrap up the season for the squad on Oct. 25.