It’s eerily similar how much last Friday’s game between Bear River and Center shaped up to be like last year’s match up.
On Friday, the team trailed 20-0 at the break and had sustained some drives but ultimately couldn’t finish its drives as it surrendered a gut-wrenching six turnovers for the game. In 2012, the Bruins moved the ball on offense and were still in the game at halftime, trailing 14-0, but they committed five turnovers and never scored in a 36-0 rout.
A 34-7 loss is still nothing to be overly proud about, but Bear River did end on a positive note. The Bruins halted Center at the goal line, stuffing the Cougars’ run offense four consecutive times. The squad then took over at the 1-yard line and drove 99 yards for its first points against Center since the fourth quarter of its game Oct. 14, 2011.
Despite another sizable defeat, this game had a much different vibe to it, one more positive than the week prior versus Placer. Even though the Bruins didn’t break through to score until the fourth quarter, they felt they were in it much of the way. The final score didn’t tell the whole story as the Bear River defense made Center overcome several obstacles along the way. The fact that the Cougars did manage to succeed is evidence not of the Bruins’ lack of ability but moreso for the impressive talent that can be found here in the Pioneer Valley League.
Cougars senior quarterback and defensive back Tyrel Anderson single-handedly stole the show on defense with his three interceptions. He proved to be quite the Achilles heel for the Bruins.
“Give credit to No. 7 (Anderson),” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue after witnessing his jaw-dropping performance. “Third-and-25, they just tell him to go and get the first down, and he runs for it — come on, man.”
Anderson and senior running back Joe Swen were the dynamic duo statistics portrayed them to be. Swen was a beast, pounding the ball inside and cutting upfield with the presence of mind and speed to allude defenders. He had 29 carries for 162 yards and three touchdowns, the longest from 27 yards out. And when Anderson tucked the ball and took off making his jukes and shake ’n’ bakes it was time to hold your breath. Center made good on seven third downs and three fourth downs to extend drives and cash in. Twenty-seven of its 34 points came off Bruin turnovers.
Bear River forced Center into a third-and-5 on its opening drive, but Swen ran for 9 yards and the Cougars would later score on 31-yard pass with blown coverage on the slot receiver.
After teams exchanged a few possessions Bear River began a drive from its 24-yard line and made it down to the Cougars’ 39 before it fumbled on what would have been a nifty play.
Quarterback Braden Duncan hit Kris Edie on a quick zing to the outside, and Edie then proceeded to hand off to John Voter III for a hook and ladder, but the exchange wasn’t clean, and when the ball hit the turf, it was swallowed up by the Cougars.
Later in the game, the Bruins drove down to the Cougars’ 37 and Duncan was picked. Center would back up after an illegal block.
Facing third-and-25, Anderson jetted 39 yards for the first down and soon afterward completed a touchdown pass on fourth-and-7 from the Bear River 27-yard line.
That’s just a taste of what the Bruins dealt with.
Moving forward, Bear River has a lot to think about and little time to do it. Duncan has had a tough stretch thus far in league, and it remains to be seen if he can lead this team back to its full potential.
The defense can only do so much. It even kept Center off the scoreboard in the third quarter.
Obviously, injuries have hurt the Bruins, but now isn’t the time to discuss sympathy — it’s win or go home.
The Union’s Sports Editor Walter Ford put me in a tight spot this week asking me to be the guest expert for our Beat the Experts football challenge. Part of this task includes choosing a winner in the Bear River versus Lincoln game. Well, in all honesty, I want this prediction to be wrong, and deep down, I hope the Bruins prove me wrong, but my pick is Lincoln. Right now, it’s hard to believe in Bear River (5-3, 0-3 PVL), and for a team starting out as well as it did, it’s even harder to understand. The fact of the matter is that the PVL is a tough league, and Bear River’s younger, less experienced offensive and defensive fronts are finally being exposed for what they really are.
The Fighting Zebras (6-2, 2-1 PVL) already have the two necessary PVL wins to qualify for a playoff bid but are currently in a three-way tie with Center and Colfax for second place.
With the league’s runner-up also automatically earning a playoff spot, Bear River can rest assured the Zebras are going to give them everything they have in the tank.
For the Bruins, a win over Lincoln would be huge. It would resurrect a team that’s gone through some tough times recently and possibly catapult it into playoff contention.
Although knocking off Lincoln and Foothill would give Bear River two league wins, it could very well still need some help from Center, Lincoln, Placer and Colfax to beat up on each other. At this juncture, teams in other leagues within Division IV of the Sac-Joaquin Section failing to pick up two league wins would also aid the Bruins.
Colfax (7-1, 2-1 PV) now has its two league wins after it destroyed Foothill, but it still must face both Placer and Lincoln. Aside from hosting Colfax this Friday, the Hillmen (4-4, 3-0 PVL) will finish at Center (5-3, 2-1 PVL). So regardless of what happens this week, there’s still going to be something on the line in the final week of the regular season. Whether or not the Bruins are part of that discussion is to be determined.
Around the PVL
Colfax 56, Foothill 12
Needing another league win to earn a shot at a playoff berth, the Falcons came out ready to play and took down Pioneer Valley League foe Foothill.
Back home after a tough two weeks on the road, Colfax earned its second league victory with another monster performance by quarterback Michael Wilson.
Wilson completed 14-of-19 passes for 271 yards and five touchdowns, giving him 33 on the season.
Wilson hit the usual suspects with Kyle Bryant grabbing seven passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns, Chas Reisinger grabbing four balls for 98 yards and two touchdowns, and tight end Wes Woodward pulled in a 20-yard touchdown pass.
The win puts Colfax at 7-1 overall and 2-1 in PVL play. The Falcons hit the road against Placer next week. Foothill hosts Center next week.
Placer 35, Lincoln 19
Placer took an early lead and did not relent as it piled on the Fighting Zebras late, leading 35-7 at one point.
The Hillmen rumbled for just under 300 yards on the ground and had four different backs score touchdowns. Placer was led by senior Cameron Scott with 117 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
The Zebras’ senior running back, Eddy Cobliegh, led Lincoln with 201 yards on the ground and one touchdown.
Despite a 4-4 overall record, Placer is the only unbeaten team in the PVL at 3-0.
The Hillmen will put that record on the line next week when they host Colfax.
Lincoln (6-2, 2-1 PVL) will try to recover with a win over the slumping Bear River.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.