With 5:47 left in the first half, Hilmar’s Breck Smith went in from 2-yards out and the Yellowjackets added the point after, trimming the Escalon Cougars’ lead to 14-7. Unfortunately for Hilmar, that was as close as they would get, and the host Cougars put the clamps on with a decisive 33-7 win on Friday night.
Escalon, coming off a bye week, went back to the drawing board in their extra week of practice to tune up defensively, after surrendering 28 points to Orestimba in a 56-28 win on Oct. 5.
Things started out well for Hilmar, as they won the toss and elected to kick off, guaranteeing themselves getting the ball to start the second half.
After allowing a couple of first down plays on Escalon’s first possession, the Cougars had to punt and Hilmar took over at the 21-yard line with 8:27 to play in the first quarter. Their hold on the ball was short-lived, having to punt it away just 29 seconds later after a quick three and out.
A short Escalon possession ended with a punt but a costly Yellowjacket turnover gave the host team great field position with 5:05 to go in the first and Nathan Chunn rumbled 24 yards to the end zone for the first of his three touchdowns on the night. With the kick good for the point after, with 3:55 to play in the first, it was 7-0 Cougars.
After another three and out for Hilmar, Escalon found the end zone again, this time Josh Redding running it in from 25 yards out and the kick good for a 14-0 lead.
Some nice yardage from senior running back Jesus Izazaga on Hilmar’s next possession and a pass completion from quarterback Beau Balswick to Tyler Robinson set up Smith’s rushing touchdown and capped a nine-play, 55 yard drive to paydirt. The kick was good and the Yellowjackets cut the lead in half.
Escalon answered on its next possession, though, on a 17-yard pass play, good for the score. The Yellowjackets blocked the extra point attempt after a bad snap, but Escalon had a 20-7 lead at the half.
The Yellowjackets were outgained 207 yards to 82 in the first half and though they got some nice runs out of junior Kenny Camden in the second half, they couldn’t punch through another score the rest of the way.
Taking the second half kickoff, their first play from scrimmage was a pass that was picked off and set up another Chunn touchdown, a 15-yard reception and the kick good for a 27-7 margin.
Another three and out for Hilmar gave the Cougars some breathing room and quarterback Phillip Kimble did a nice job of scrambling away from the defense to find Alec VonAlvensleben, who went up and over three Yellowjackets, on a 3-yard reception. Chunn followed that with a 5-yard run into the end zone. The kick was no good but a 33-7 lead was more than enough for the Cougars.
Hilmar got a nice drive going in the fourth, with Balswick charging ahead for a 27-yard carry and a personal foul against Escalon tacked on at the end for a late hit, putting them in good field position. A fumble two plays later, recovered by Escalon, took the momentum away and the Yellowjackets couldn’t get much going again.
They ended with 169 rushing yards on 35 plays and Balswick completed 5-of-8 pass attempts for 38 yards with one interception.
Hilmar drops to 2-3 in Trans-Valley League play with the loss, while the Cougars – avenging a loss in last season’s Section title game – improve to 3-1 in league with the win.