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Varsity Football Upends Livingston In Regular Season Finale
nash 11-2
Owen Nash works to pull the ball in close and keep it under control while the Livingston defense tries to drag him down in Friday night action on the road. Escalon scored a 56-20 win; Nash had a pair of touchdown receptions. Marg Jackson/The Times

A running clock in the second half, a road game, and a lopsided decision.

Escalon’s varsity football Cougars put the last game of the Trans-Valley League season in the win column on Friday night, running past the host Livingston Wolves by a 56-20 final.

The Cougars ended the league season with a 4-2 record, with wins over Modesto Christian, Riverbank, Ripon and Livingston coming after they opened up 0-2, falling in their first two games to Hughson and TVL champion Hilmar. But after shaking off the two losses, the Escalon squad found its footing and took care of business over the last several weeks of the regular season.

They also picked up the No. 5 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 playoffs and will be at home to host No. 12 Pacheco on Friday night, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.

In the regular season finale at Livingston, it didn’t take long for the Cougars to get on the board. They scored in the first quarter – four times – while holding the host team to a single touchdown in that frame.

By halftime, it was a 42-7 lead.

Escalon received the opening kickoff and used a mix of rushing and passing plays to eat up the yardage between the end zones on their first drive. On a fourth and 10, quarterback Donovan Rozevink hit Matthew Baptista for a first down and the Cougars used that momentum to their advantage. Jamin Miller got the call and took the ball in from 33 yards out for the touchdown and the kick was good by Talan Reider for a 7-0 lead with 8:27 left in the quarter.

But Livingston answered back quicky; after a nice return on the kickoff, and a couple of short yardage plays, they broke one for a 64-yard rushing touchdown and added the point after to tie the game 7-7 with 8:09 left in the first.

The quick score seemed to wake up the Cougars, who steeled their collective resolve and made things tough for the Wolves the rest of the night.

Rozevink would find Owen Nash a couple of times on the next possession by the Cougars, including a 22-yard pass that went for a touchdown. With Reider sending the extra point through, it was 14-7 with 6:38 to play in the first quarter.

Nash and Rozevink again connected late in the quarter on a 71-yard play for the touchdown, point good, for a 21-7 lead. And on the ensuing kickoff, Livingston had a short return and fumbled on the next play. Escalon recovered and Ryker Peters promptly ran it in from 26 yards out, kick good, for a 28-7 lead.

“Our offense jumped on them early, from multiple angles,” head coach Andrew Beam said. “Every running back had some carries, and when you have scoring plays from 22, 71, 33 26, 84 yards … that can demoralize a team. Our big play offense shell-shocked them.”

Escalon rolled up 519 yards of offense, Livingston had 199 on the night.

Logan Anderson joined the scoring party in the third quarter with a 37-yard touchdown run, kick good, to make it 35-7 and after forcing Livingston to punt later in the quarter, Peters broke free on the first play from scrimmage for an 84-yard touchdown run. The kick was good and it was 42-7.

The teams traded possessions to close out the first half and – with the 35-point lead – both coaches agreed to the running clock.

Beam utilized many of his second unit players for the second half, giving everyone a chance to get in and see some action.

Sawyer Mello had a nice return of a Livingston punt, Talan Reider got involved with a couple of rushing plays, Jagger Scott saw some time under center and completed a pair of passes. One of those was a 40-yard scoring strike to Nate Krieger, who caught it in stride and ran down the sideline to the end zone. Reider added the point after for a 49-7 lead with 3:08 left in the third quarter.

As the third quarter wound down, a couple of Escalon penalties put Livingston into good field position and they scored on a 16-yard rush on the first play of the fourth. The kick was good to trim the Cougar lead to 49-14.

But a 3-yard run by David Silva – set up by a 33-yard run the play before from Josh Graham – saw the final touchdown of the night get on the board for the Cougars. Silva got the TD, Reider added the kick and it was 56-14. Reider was 8-for-8 kicking the extra points.

Livingston scored with just a few seconds left on the clock, a 21-yard pass play, but the kick was no good so the final was 56-20.

Normally just used on the offensive side, Jacob Rauch played on defense for the first time and recorded a sack; Krieger had a fumble recovery, Nico Franzia had six tackles and Miller had a solid game on both sides of the ball.

“This was definitely super important because we played so well against Ripon; we needed to make sure we could keep that cohesion as a team and that fight, we wanted to be able to carry that into this week and the next few weeks and I think this was a good start,” Rauch said following the contest. “We were able to get all the guys time, too; anyone has to step up at any time, injuries can happen … it’s really getting guys experience on the field, that definitely is the most important because there’s nothing like a football game.”

Offensively, Rozevink was 8-for-10 for 146 yards and two touchdowns; Peters had five rushes for 135 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Anderson had four carries for 69 yards and a score. Owen Nash had five catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

“In the second unit, Josh Graham had six carries for 61 yards and Jagger Scott was 2-for-2 with 53 yards and a touchdown, the second offense did play well, they got over 100 yards of offense,” Beam said.

Escalon improved to 7-3 overall with the win on Friday night but now head into the playoffs, where the slate is clean and everyone comes in at 0-0. The postseason starts with the Cougars at home, hosting Pacheco out of Los Banos. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Friday at Engel Field.

Ryker 11-2
Eyes on the field ahead of him, Ryker Peters gets ready to put on a burst of speed and outrun the defense during Friday night’s regular season finale at Livingston. He had a pair of rushing touchdowns in a 56-20 Escalon victory. Marg Jackson/The Times