The first true test for Patterson did not go as the Tigers planned. And after earning victories in their first three games, the visitors suffered their first setback of the season.
Patterson coach Nick Marchy huddled with his players near midfield following the loss.
“It hurts, doesn’t it? But we didn’t play for four quarters,” he said. “We’ve got to execute on every play. All of next week, you’re going to be thinking about that scoreboard.”
Escalon (3-1) got a pair of touchdowns from both senior back Nathan Chunn and senior tight end Andrew Zavala to race out to a 14-0 lead, and then put the game away on a 4-yard score from senior back Jason Robbins on the final possession of the third quarter.
It was the second consecutive year that Escalon has handed the Tigers (3-1) their first loss of the season. Last year, the Cougars beat the Tigers 14-7 at Patterson Community Stadium.
“Coming in 3-0, we were confident, we were high,” said Patterson senior linebacker Drake Vatuvei. “But we need to finish. If one man doesn’t do his job, then the whole team suffers.”
After forcing Patterson to go three-and-out on the first possession of the game, Chunn’s 2-yard scoring plunge, which came with 7 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first quarter, capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive for Escalon.
Against the Cougars Friday night, Patterson was held scoreless in the first quarter and punted on three of its first four possessions. The other possession ended with a turnover on downs, when the Tigers stalled at the Cougar 27-yard line.
From there, Escalon was able to put together another scoring drive. The four-play 73-yard drive took only 2:24 off the clock in the second quarter and was capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Phillip Kimble to Zavala for a 14-0 lead.
Patterson responded right back with a scoring drive of its own as junior Avion Warmsley hauled in a 41-yard pass from quarterback Joey Lopes to help set up the team’s first touchdown of the night. With 8:05 left in the second, Lopes, a senior, found junior Jordan Levu on a 15-yard pass to make it 14-7 at halftime.
After a three-and-out by the Cougars to open the second half, Patterson was back in business.
With 10:10 left in the third, the Tigers drew within 14-13 on an 68-yard catch-and-run from Lopes to junior Brandon Williams, that featured a hurdle over two defenders on the way to the end zone.
Kimble then led an extensive 11-play, 50-yard march that ate up over six minutes of game time. The drive stalled deep in Tigers territory and Thomas Diniz was good on a 27-yard field goal to give the Cougars a 17-13 lead.
On their ensuing possession, the Tigers seemed poised to take the lead but on first-and-10 from the Escalon 28, Lopes scrambled then threw across his body, lofting a pass into the middle of the field. Escalon junior Josh Redding jumped a Patterson receiver and snatched the pass, giving the Cougars the ball back at their own 19.
From there, Zavala’s 74-yard reception set up Robbins’ touchdown scamper with 4.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Lopes generated a clock-chewing drive to open the fourth, highlighted by a 33-yard dart to Levu on third-and-5 that brought the Tigers to the Escalon 4.
But on fourth-and-goal from the Cougar 2 with 6:35 remaining, a pass to Levu along the sideline fell incomplete and the ball was turned over to Escalon on downs.
“It’s our first loss, but we’ve got six more games,” Marchy said. “Are we going to fold? No. We are going to finish.”
Patterson takes a bye this week, with Central Valley High of Ceres hosting the Western Athletic Conference opener on Sept. 27 to begin a six-week run to end the regular season. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.
In a game where neither team seemed able to deter the other, Escalon’s defense finally came up with a key stop. The JV Cougars left Engel Field with a 27-20 victory over Patterson on Friday, Sept. 14.
“The coaches can get the team ready. We can put the plays in,” Patterson coach Harley Parson said. “But it’s the team’s Friday night — it’s their season. Everyone has to work together once it’s game time.”
Trailing by a touchdown with 2:20 left to play, the Tigers marched 78 yards in nine plays, to Escalon’s 6-yard line. But the Cougars’ interception in front of the end zone with 18 seconds remaining sealed the victory, knocking Patterson from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Tiger quarterback Damian Paulo opened the game with a 27-yard toss to Hunter Powers. Three plays later, Damarrio Hammonds scored on an 18-yard catch from Paulo to put Patterson up 7-0.
A Daniel Cota interception gave the Tigers the ball at their own 45 with 5:05 left in the first.
Patterson (3-1) gave it right back after the pick, though, fumbling the ball away.
The Cougars answered with a touchdown of their own on a 10-play, 45-yard drive. Escalon finished it with a 1-yard TD run to make it 7-7.
Midway through the second quarter, Wilmer Sanchez made a big play for the Tigers as he sacked Escalon’s quarterback and forced him to fumble. Patterson’s Lawyer McBride recovered it giving the Tigers back the ball at their own 45.
From there, Patterson scored again, as Paulo found Michael Lawson for a 19-yard pass and a 14-7 lead at halftime.
Escalon began the second half with a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but missed the PAT, preserving Patterson’s lead.
Paulo broke free for a 43-yard TD gallop on the Tigers’ ensuing possession, giving Patterson a 20-13 edge with 7:14 left in the third.
Escalon opted to keep the ball on the ground and march methodically down the field. The Cougars proceeded to go on a 14-play, 82-yard scoring drive that finished with a 4-yard scoot to make it 20-20.
After forcing Patterson to punt with 9:54 remaining, Escalon again moved their offense towards the end zone.
The Cougars scored on their third consecutive possession as Escalon’s QB found a receiver for a 10-yard scoring pass.
In the closing minutes of the game, it looked as though Patterson would again cross the goal line. But the Tigers came up six yards short of another touchdown in the final ticks, falling to the Cougars in a hard-fought nonleague contest.
“It’s one game — we’ve got time to work on some things,” Parson said. “This is a great time to get back to the basics, and to reevaluate our players.”
Patterson High’s freshman football team picked up its fourth straight win of the season, defeating Escalon High, 40-13, at Patterson Community Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 13.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.