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Hilmars late touchdown enough to top Escalon, 48-41
Alex Chavez celebrates after catching a 51 yard pass that bounced of his Escalon opponent and landed in his hands. The play placed the Yellowjackets in a perfect position to score within the next few plays. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

A long standing rivalry between the Hilmar Yellowjackets and the Escalon Cougars brought an incredible matchup to McSweeney Field Friday night.

The Yellowjackets (4-3 overall, 1-1 TVL) had an exciting finish as Hilmar’s Cody Rentfro ran for 97 yards up the sideline for the final touchdown that put them ahead for the first time all game and for good with a final score of 48-41.

“These kids have worked really hard all year, and to have them taste this kind of victory is so sweet,” said Hilmar head coach Frank Marques.

The first half brought strong offense from both teams, Escalon converting every first quarter drive to a touchdown and Hilmar answering back nearly every time as well.  The teams battled on the ground as well as in the air and the Cougars led going into the second half, 28-26.

“We started off a little bumpy on defense,” said Rentfro. “Then in the second half we came out there and had some fun and played well.”

Escalon was first on the board in the second half with C.J. Gumbs’ 21-yard touchdown run with 4:44 left in the third quarter and once again Hilmar followed close behind as Teixeira found Chase Kindberg in the end zone just plays later and Rentfro completed the two-point conversion to tie the game.

Gumbs put Escalon in another great opportunity to score after he broke through and jumped over a few tackles for a gain of 22 yards.  However, as the Cougars pulled within just three yards of the goal line, Hilmar’s defense shut them down for a goal-line stand with 2:25 left in the game.

“Our defense really did a great job stepping up in the second half,” said Marques. “They really came together and played inspiring defense.”

Hilmar capitalized on this momentum shift and Rentfro ran down the sideline for the winning touchdown.

“My linemen made some key blocks, the linebacker called where I was going and they picked it up,” said Rentfro. “I cut to the outside and Chavez had a great block so it was just wide open.”

Rentfro had a total of 238 yards on 12 carries.

“That kid's a beast—he’s amazing,” said Marques. “I’m glad that 25 is on our team.”