The Escondido and Fallbrook football teams went head-to-head last Friday night in what turned out to be a showcase for the Cougars’ offensive talents. Senior running back Taveous Vazquez played a major role in this success for EHS, with plenty of effective carries and two touchdowns.
Though both teams came into the encounter with 1-5 overall records, their lead up to the game had been quite varied. Fallbrook was recently victorious against the Hoover Cardinals, which greatly enhanced its team morale, while the Cougars had to endure three devastating losses along with the discouraging forfeit of a win against Serra.
But despite these rather trying circumstances, it was Esco that managed to seize a lead in the first quarter and held it throughout the game, leaving the final score at 27-13.
Vazquez joined Cougar Country recently, having played at Poway High previously, and he helped carry his new team to this timely victory. Discussing the importance of the win, Coach Jud Bordman explained, “It’s great for the kids because the forfeit had really kept them down mentally.”
Although the Cougars scored long before Fallbrook, both teams had shaky first possessions. Fallbrook ended their first series quickly, turning the ball over in Cougar territory at the 22-yard line. EHS worked its way towards the end zone on a four-play drive that ended at the 20, where, instead of a field goal, a fourth down was attempted. But this gamble didn’t pay off as the play proved to be unsuccessful.
But here the Esco defense stiffened and forced a punt. Then, taking full advantage on the team’s next next possession, Cougar quarterback Kellen McCoy handed the ball off to the dangerous Vazquez who introduced himself in a big way by going on an 18-yard touchdown run, all the while breezing past the Warrior defense. A successful PAT was converted and the Cougars took the lead at 7-0 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.
Because of their inability to to hook up on key pass plays, the Warriors just couldn’t get much going. Unable to secure touchdowns, Fallbrook was forced to settle for close-range field goals at the beginning and end of the second quarter, bringing the score to a somewhat deceiving 7-6 since Esco had carried so much of the play.
Vazquez continued to make a name for himself in the second half as he did some yeoman work with 12 more carries. After being handed the ball behind the 26-yard line, Vazquez dashed off before completing a 56-yard carry which had the Fallbrook defense thoroughly baffled. From here, it was Marcio Souffront who did the honors, taking it in from eight yards out with 10:28 left in the third quarter. A 2-point conversion attempt failed when the Warriors caught the pass in the end zone, which kept the score at 13-6.
After a few lengthy plays, Fallbrook’s offense stalled and it was once more forced to give up the rock. More than happy to reclaim possession, the Orange and Black then turned to Vazquez, who got Esco close with seven productive totes. Fittingly, it was Vazquez who finished things off as he powered into the end zone from nine yards out. This pivotal score came at the beginning of the last quarter and its effect was to really rev up the Cougar fans in attendance.
With the score now at 20-6, it was clear the Warriors needed to change something and do it rather quickly. Somewhat surprisingly, their passing game, which up to this point had been rather pedestrian, started to click. And when Kobe Stallings caught Jack Grantham’s 10-yard pass just inside the end zone, the Warriors were suddenly right back in the thick of things. Joe Bishop booted through the extra point and with just under ten minutes left in the final quarter, the score had tightened considerably at 20-13.
EH’s offense then struggled a bit, unable to generate much of anything and suffering a costly penalty and a crushing sack at the hands of Warriors’ John Brodak. However, thanks to a penalty against Fallbrook during its ensuing possession and a few successful carries by Cougar backs Cade Pannell and Marcio Souffront, EHS was once again in great position from in tight. Souffront then hit paydirt from five yards out, veering around potential tacklers and giving the Cougars the put-away touchdown with barely over a minute left in the game.
Now with the count 27-13, Fallbrook had less than one minute to close the gap and was still two touchdowns behind. After recovering the kick at their own 40-yard line, Grantham soon handed the ball to Nahshon Hagan for a 20-yard rush. Stallings then caught a pass at the 10-yard line and sprinted in for a touchdown with 50 seconds left on the clock. Amidst wild cheering, the refs littered the field with flags, resulting in a revocation of the score. This devastating blow was a mortal one for the Warriors and kept the score at 27-13.
Shortly thereafter, McCoy took a knee with 20 seconds left, thereby securing Esco’s second win of the year.
“It took a bit to remember that we’re a team but it showed tonight,” grinned a triumphant Bordman. “We did our job. Everybody did their jobs and that’s when we’re successful.” After a rather rough go of it, this win could not have come at a better time for the Cougars. Star running back Vazquez was more than pleased with the team’s efforts. When discussing his impressive 142 yards on the ground, he stayed humble, explaining, “we’ve worked hard all week, so it’s good to be able to represent the team.”
Not taking this win lightly, Bordman stressed the need to refocus for next week. Now that, “everyone is trusting each other and we’re doing our jobs,” the hope is to continue the success experienced on Friday during their next game against Del Norte.