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Hilmar falls to Escalon in inaugural Vaca Bowl
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Caden Bailey searches for an opening during the first "Vaca bowl" against Escalon (SAMANTHA SCHMIDT/The Journal).

MODESTO — Sixteen seconds was all it took for Hilmar to know what kind of night lie in store on Friday the 13th at Modesto Junior College.

On the game’s first play from scrimmage, Escalon’s Josh Graham rambled around the right end untouched for a 72-yard touchdown, setting the tone in the Cougars’ 49-21 victory over the Yellowjackets that all but settled the Trans-Valley League race.

Defending Division 4-AA state champion Escalon (7-1) improved to 3-0 in the TVL, with only Ripon and Livingston left on its schedule.

Hilmar (5-3), now 2-1 in league action, faces defending 5-AA state champ Hughson next week at McSweeney Field.

The Cougars totaled 508 yards of total offense, and scored on seven of its first eight possessions. The only time they didn’t cash in was when they took possession with 33 seconds left in the first half and the clock expired after one play.

Graham finished the night 105 yards on 11 carries, while teammate Talan Reider went for 106 yards on just four attempts. Jamin Miller carried the ball three times for 73 yards, and each runner had an explosive touchdown. Graham broke free from 72, Reider cashed in from 80, and Miller found paydirt from 68 yards out. 

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Hilmar's Logan Cardoso is taken out at the knees during Friday’s contest against Escalon at MJC (SAMANTHA SCHMIDT/The Journal).

Defensively, the Cougars stacked the box and dared Hilmar to beat them through the air. 

Even though Escalon crowded the line of scrimmage, Caden Bailey (159) and Logan Cardosa (138) combined for 297 yards on the ground. 

Bailey scored two of the Yellowjackets’ touchdowns, on runs of 32 — set up by Cardoso’s 40-yard gain — and 39 yards. Cardoso scored the other TD on a 5-yard burst. 

But Hilmar completed just one of four passes attempts and found it difficult to sustain drives, punting twice in the first half and having another drive snuffed out on a sensational interception by Sam Jimenez.

Escalon quarterback Donovan Rozevink completed 11 of 15 for 170 yards and three touchdown passes.

Nico Franzia hauled in two TD passes: a 27-yarder from Rozevink and 26-yarder from Miller on a halfback-option.

For the first time in the history of the Hilmar-Escalon football rivalry, the two teams played for a perpetual trophy.

This year’s matchup, dubbed the Vaca Bowl — vaca means cow in Portuguese — to honor the deep Portuguese roots in in each community. The trophy is a silver milk can, a nod to the importance of the dairy industry in each town. 

After 71 meetings between the schools, Escalon leads the rivalry 36-34-1.