The Escalon High School Cougars beat Calaveras High School in the San Andreas team’s first game of the 2019 season, 24-7 at home.

Calaveras High School performed admirably in the first half, holding the Escalon High School Cougars to a draw. In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Escalon stretched their lead out of reach for the home team.

Friday’s game against the Escalon High School Cougars was Calaveras High School’s game under new coach Doug Clark, who took over after Jason Weatherby retired last year.

Escalon High School, located in San Joaquin County, opened their season last week with a 58-0 home win over Union Mine High School of El Dorado.

A cool settled over Frank Meyer Field as the sun set under a tree lined hill west of San Andreas at about 7:30 p.m.

As the blare of AC/DC ceded to the Calaveras High School band playing their rendition of “Seven Nation Army,” the varsity boys burst onto the field from under an inflated archway.

It was already 30 minutes after the game was scheduled to begin, and Calaveras came out hungry to draw first blood.

Senior Ronnie Garcia opened the game with a more than 30-yard kickoff return to about the 40 yard line, but the stauch Escalon defensive line forced them back, just inches from earning a first down.

On their second possession, Escalon made a 30-yard carry up field. A long throw a few plays later was caught by Escalon senior Colton Panero in the endzone, and with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter, Calaveras High School was seven points behind.

For the remainder of the quarter, Calaveras High School failed to mount an offense. Junior wide receiver Clayton Moore caught a narrow pass while sprinting up the far right-side line, but a subsequent holding penalty reversed much of his gains.

By the end of the first quarter, Calaveras was stuck on the five-yard line with a fourth down. The subsequent field goal attempt was stuffed in the outstretched arms of an oncoming Cougar.

The possessions from Escalon were stymied with more penalties — three in a row — which brought them 50 yards back from a first down. But after one play and a personal foul by Calaveras, Escalon had filled the void and was just 10 yards from the end zone.

The Calaveras defense held their own against a quadruple onslaught of barreling runs and turned the ball over on downs.

Having successfully stemmed the tide, Calaveras then earned an equalizer after a twisted juke run by senior Jonny Lozano and then a sharp pass to junior Jake Black.

After the point after kick was sunk, Calaveras had tied it up.

Both teams shared possession but neither managed to earn a lead in the remaining minutes of the half.

The Cougars shaved six minutes off the time with an incremental slough up field, earning a lead with a score of 14-7.

Calaveras was blocked from making any substantial gains, and in the next possession the Cougars earned another touchdown.

The defensive efforts of Calaveras were buoyed by the rousing chants of “Go Big Red” by the crowd, the cheerleaders and the band. For many minutes, they batted away passes and kept the Cougars from earning points.

Leading into the final minutes, Escalon kicked a 19-yard field goal to bring on the final score of 24-7.

Calaveras High School will play an away non-league game against Modesto Christian High School next Friday at 7 p.m.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.