Hilmar holds off Escalon to advance

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comNovember 23, 2013 

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MERCED SUN-STAR

— David Bisby wasn’t going to let a gimpy ankle keep him out of the game. Not with the season on the line.

With the Hilmar defense needing one last stop, the Yellowjackets senior checked himself back in the game and came up with a big sack on fourth down as No. 2 seed Hilmar defeated No. 10 Escalon 14-7 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 quarterfinals on Friday night at McSweeney Field.

The Yellowjackets (12-0) will host No. 6 Center (9-3) in the semifinals next week. Center defeated No. 14 Placer 24-20.

Bisby was helped off midway through the fourth quarter after he reinjured his ankle. After watching the Cougars (7-5) drive down and score to cut the lead to 14-7, Bisby couldn’t watch any longer.

“When it first happened, all I could focus on was the pain,” he said. “It hurt really bad. Then I’m watching everything that was happening in the game, not only with me but the refs, and all I saw was red.”

With Bisby and the Hilmar defense holding the Cougars offense in check, it seemed like the Yellowjackets had control of the game with a 14-point lead through the first three quarters.

However, Escalon went down fighting, driving 95 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown. Cougars fullback Christian May scored on a 5-yard run to cut the lead to 14-7 with 3:12 left in the game.

“This program has a lot of tradition, we have a lot to be proud of,” Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro said. “We were going to make them earn this game.”

Hilmar (12-0) felt the deck was stacked against them. The Yellowjackets were called for a crucial pass interference call on third-and-12 early in the drive. The referees then ruled a whistle blew before Hilmar’s Bernardo Duran recovered a fumble by Franie Bavaro (132 rushing yards) at the Hilmar 12-yard line and returned it to midfield.

“It’s bad when we have to beat the officials and Escalon,” Yellowjackets head coach Frank Marques said. “Escalon is good enough. They don’t need any help. It was very interesting.”

Hilmar jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter by taking advantage of field position. The Yellowjackets’ first two drives started at Escalon’s 35-yard line and Hilmar’s 48 after the Yellowjackets defense forced two three-and-outs to start the game.

Hilmar turned the great field position into two quick scores at Jonathan O’Brien found Kris Camden for an 11-yard touchdown pass on the first drive and O’Brien scored on a 1-yard keeper on the second drive.

“One of the things we talked about is we can’t let them play on a short field,” Loureiro said. “That’s what hurt us last time and that’s what hurt us tonight. Great teams capitalize on that and that’s a great team.”

Escalon’s defense held Hilmar to just 153 yards of offense, but the Yellowjackets defense was also up to the task.

After the Cougars scored, the Escalon defense forced a Hilmar punt that gave the Cougars one last chance at their 49-yard line with 2:04 left.

The Yellowjackets pushed Escalon backward as Beau Balswick sacked Ben Hood for 5 yard loss on first down. Bavaro was tackled for a 2 yard loss on second down. After an incompletion, Bisby came up with the sack on fourth down to end the Cougars’ chances of an upset.

Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or sjansen@mercedsunstar.com.

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