In a game that meant so much to both teams, a 14-7 Bear River loss is worthy of recognition.
The Bruins came out on fire and drew first blood 15 seconds into the game with a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by Hunter Cramer. The lead didn’t last long. Bear River made a terrific defensive stand only to fumble it back to the Hillmen who quickly took advantage of the short field to punch it in from 10 yards out and tie the game at 7.
Placer took a 14-7 lead going into the half with a 44-yard drive, which was capped off by Michael Robinson’s 4-yard touchdown plunge.
Dillon Smith was 12-of-25 passing with 158 yards and two interceptions. Hunter Cramer had two catches good for 31 yards and a touchdown on defense. Bear River carried the ball 17 times and lost a total of 3 yards.
On defense, Cody Heard made his presence known with 18 tackles and one and a half sacks. Jake Savoie added 10 tackles and another one and a half sacks. J’Sean Harwood had one sack and wrapped up six tackles. Cameron Barrios and Zach Winter each had 17 tackles. Barrios also snagged an interception.
Twice the Bruins found themselves with the ball first and goal after Placer committed pass interference, and twice the Bruins came away with nothing. Dillon Smith threw an interception in the back corner of the end zone on a well defended pass. The second failed attempt came late in the fourth quarter when a fourth-and-goal pass from the 20-yard line was broken up at the goal line.
Twenty yards in offensive penalties and 15 more on defense didn’t help Bear River much either as its offensive rhythm was far from clicking. The Bruins did convert on a fourth down late in the game to keep their hopes alive, but in the end, Placer’s defense had its way.
The second half was a battle for field position, as Bruins punter Harwood pinned the Hillmen inside their own 10-yard line twice. Yet each time, the Hillmen were able to move the ball and get their backs off the wall. The Hillmen ran the ball 53 times for 315 yards. The 14 points scored by Placer are the fewest the team has scored all season, after averaging 52.8 points the first six games.
“Our defense played spectacular,” said Savoie. “We poured out every ounce of blood, sweat and tears here tonight. We were only one touch away.”
Now 6-1 overall and 1-1 in Pioneer Valley League play, the Bruins will begin to prepare for their homecoming game against Center (6-1 overall, 2-0 PVL).
JV: Bear River 20, Placer 12
The Bear River JV squad improved to 5-1-1 and 2-0 in the PVL after outlasting the Hillmen.
The Bruins came from behind, trailing 12-7 in the half. Quarterback Austin Smith was 5-of-6 passing for 127 yards and two touchdowns, including one that went for 88 yards to Garett Ransour. Wide reciever Ryan Wagner also hauled in two catches good for 18 yards and a touchdown. Wagner snatched an interception on defense as well.
As a team, the Bruins rushed for 104 yards on 29 carries with one touchdown by Kyle Uclaray.
Sean Mikan, Kyle Krogman and Connor Hollister, who forced a fumble, all teamed up for a combined 25 tackles. Two sacks, one by Cole Clark and another by Mikan, which came on fourth-and-12, really put the game on ice.
Bear River’s offense picked up two consecutive first downs and found itself at Placer’s 3-yard line. That’s when things got ugly. The Hillmen had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which was quickly followed by a player being ejected.
The Bruins took a knee at Placer’s 1½-yard line celebrated.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4234,