By Ross Johnson

For The Union Democrat

Calaveras 28

Escalon 14

Calaveras High School took on the Escalon Cougars Friday night in a hot and humid slugfest.

“I’m feeling good,” said Coach Jason Weatherby before the game. And that was the same feeling he had at the end when his team defeated the Cougars 28-14 with a last-minute touchdown that sealed the win.

Calaveras received the ball to start the game and senior running back Tanner Joses broke a tackle on the opening drive for a 28-yard run. But the drive stalled after an incomplete pass and a rush stopped in the backfield, forcing Calaveras to punt.

The Calaveras defense then forced Escalon to punt, starting their second drive from their own 40-yard line. Senior quarterback Kyle Byrd rushed for two first downs on the drive, and an Escalon offsides penalty on fourth down gave Calaveras a much needed five yards and a new set of chains.

A delay of game penalty on Calaveras stalled the drive, and when the team tried to convert another fourth down, Byrd’s pass to the end zone fell incomplete, turning the ball over to Escalon on downs.

A sack by senior Calaveras defensive lineman Austin Watters forced another Escalon punt, and the first quarter ended 0-0.

Senior tight end Seth Puisis caught a screen pass to the left on a fourth down and broke multiple tackles to score a 26-yard touchdown and put Calaveras on the board. A completed point after kick made the score 7-0 with 5:45 left to play in the half.

Escalon then returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Calaveras 29-yard line, and a completed pass in the right corner of the endzone tied the game at 7-7 with 3:46 on the clock.

After receiving the kickoff, Calaveras pushed the ball all the way to Escalon’s one yard line, and called a timeout with 11 seconds remaining in the half. On the next play Byrd punched through the line to score, and senior kicker Kyle Alfred added the extra point to put Calaveras up 14-7 at the half.

The third quarter saw no scoring, but Escalon was able to push to the Calaveras three yard line by the start of the fourth. Two more rushes got the Cougars across the goal line, and they tied the game at 14 with 8:37 left in the game.

The next Calaveras drive faltered, but kicker Kyle Alfred scrambled out of his fourth down punt formation to throw a completion to the Escalon 23-yard line and keep his team’s drive alive. On the next play, Calaveras ran a reverse and Byrd threw a huge lead block to get his running back into the endzone and put his team up 21-14.

The Calaveras defense held steady and forced an Escalon punt to get the ball back. Senior running back Chance Norton then let loose with a 43-yard run to get his offense to the Escalon five yard line. Joses then punched it in for the score with only 34 seconds left in the game, and with a completed point after, Calaveras led 28-14.

Escalon then received the ball, but after being stopped twice by the Calaveras defense, the Cougars simply ran out of time.

“We made some mistakes in the first half,” Weatherby said after the game. “Those could have put us up a little higher, but at crunch time they delivered. I’m proud of them, they didn’t buckle on defense.”

Calaveras next travels to play Modesto Christian High at 7:30 Friday, Sept. 8. They return to Fred Meyer Field to host Union Mine High at 7 p.m. Sept. 15.