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12.02.11 by Michael Smith

The Hilmar Yellowjackets avenged a regular season loss to their undefeated league rival Escalon Cougars by kicking a game-winning field goal with 22.9 seconds left to win the 2011 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Championship by a score of 20-17, snapping a four-game losing skid to their small town foes in front of a raucous and spirited crowd in a game broadcast live on KBCsports.com from Alex G. Spanos Stadium on the campus of Lincoln High School in Stockton, CA.

Trailing 7-0 midway through the second quarter, Hilmar's offense took to the field for the third time in the game, unsuccessful in their first two possessions, and made it third-time's-a-charm with a lengthy drive that took nearly six and a half minutes off the clock, capitalizing on a quarterback sneak from a yard out with their main signal caller Andrew Olson punching it in. The PAT by Kurtis Bettencourt was good, thus tying the game at 7-7 with a little over three minutes left before halftime.

Escalon would take a 10-7 lead into halftime with a tremendous 43-yd. field goal from Gino Franceschetti on a ball that just barely made it, bouncing off the cross bar and falling behind the uprights, good, with 5.6 seconds left in the 2nd quarter.

Hilmar received the ball to start the second half and wasted no time getting back on the scoreboard with a touchdown to take the lead. The Yellowjackets scored within two minutes only running six plays, punctuating the drive with a nine-yard sprint to the end zone by running back Garrett Jericoff.  Bettencourt's PAT try was good again, giving his team a 14-10 lead.

Hilmar held that lead going into the 4th quarter and would add to that lead with 5:47 left to play on a 39-yard field goal from Bettencourt to give the Yellowjackets a 17-10 advantage.

Escalon would fight to keep things interesting and keep their current CIF-best 25 game win streak alive by scoring on a two-yard touchdown run behind the legs of Matt Roberson with just over two minutes left to play. Franceschetti's PAT was nails, and the game was suddenly tied at 17-all.

Hilmar then had the opportunity to get the ball back and possibly win the game by controlling the clock to set up a score. The Yellowjackets offense did just that, getting key contributions from backup QB Jonathan O'Brien who completed three straight passes in replacement of Olson who re-injured his left arm, to set themselves up in Cougar territory for what was going to be a game winning field goal try with 22.9 seconds left. Escalon Head Coach Mark Loureiro burned all three of his timeouts in an attempt to try to "ice" Betterncourt. Bettencourt stayed calm, cool, and collected throughout the pauses in action, and when there were no more timeouts to be taken, he boomed a 41-yard kick through the goalposts to give his team a 20-17 lead and the eventual 2011 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Title.

Kurtis Bettencourt was named the KBCsports Player of the Game, as it was his golden boot that came through in the clutch, connecting on two extra point tries and two field goal attempts for a total of eight points, with the last three points being the most crucial for his Hilmar Yellowjackets.

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