Unlike the win that was awarded to them earlier in the week, Nevada Union’s Miners earned a victory the old fashioned way Friday night by gutting out a 21-20 comeback over Laguna Creek in Delta Valley Conference play.
Heading into halftime, the Miners had little going their way and faced a 20-7 deficit with 24 minutes to play. But back Nevada Union came, powered by a front line that led a pair of backs to a big second half and a suddenly stingy defense that kept the visiting Cardinals in check.
Senior fullback Corey Browning rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown, while junior halfback Cameron Ryan ran for 112 yards and two scores, as the Miners battled their way back into the win column.
“We got our team back tonight,” declared NU coach Dave Humphers, whose Miners had lost five straight on the field entering Friday night’s action. Earlier in the week Nevada Union was awarded another victory, when the Sac-Joaquin Section announced that Franklin of Stockton would forfeit its 45-21 victory over the Miners due to recruiting violations.
All of the sudden, Nevada Union ” which began the week with a 1-5 record ” is 3-4 on the season and, more importantly, 1-1 in the DVC.
Ryan’s second touchdown of the night ” his 47-yard run down the left sideline gave NU a 7-6 lead in the first quarter ” came from 14 yards away on the final play of the third quarter. Ryan took the handoff and sprinted toward the right sideline, where he turned the corner untouched for a 20-14 score.
“We just kept battling,” Humphers said. “This is huge.”
“Huge” also described the hole Browning found on the right side of the line with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game.
On second-and-five from the NU 48-yard line, Browning took the ball and bounced out to his right before cutting back inside and into the open for a 52-yard touchdown. The third of Kyle Bielen’s three point-after kicks split the uprights to put Nevada Union in command at 21-20 with 9:05 to go in the game.
“I really don’t know what was going through my mind,” Browning said of the game-breaking play. “I just know I went in there and got the points. The offensive line did a great job and we just hoped the defense would step up to stop them. And they did.”
Not just once, but three times.
Immediately after the go-ahead score, NU sent Laguna Creek’s offense off the field after three-plays and a punt. The key stop in the series came on third-and-four at the Laguna Creek 35-yard line, where Nevada Union senior linebacker Tucker Colomb threw Cardinals quarterback Wyatt Jiru for a five-yard loss.
After Nevada Union punted the ball away on its next possession, though, the Cardinals were back in business with four minutes remaining.
On fourth-and-four at Cardinals’ 36-yard line, NU appeared to have stopped Laguna Creek short of a first down, but a blocking-below-the-waist penalty on Nevada Union’s defense gave the Cardinals another life.
On fourth-and-six from the Nevada Union 44, Jiru dropped back and threw a bomb in the direction of his junior tight end, Zach Kouba.
But before Kouba could get his hands on the ball, NU senior defensive back Kemp Stanford swooped in and batted the ball away to end the threat.
“I knew it was fourth down, so I didn’t want to catch it,” Stanford said. “But didn’t want to let anything happen either so I just knocked it down.
“This is a big win. This can turn things around. We’ve just got to keep it going.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4240.
Nevada Union 21, Laguna Creek 20
LC (3-4) 6 14 0 0 ” 20
NU (3-4) 7 0 7 7 ” 21
LC ” Wyatt Jiru 1 run (Run failed), 6:14.
NU ” Cameron Ryan 47 run (Kyle Bielen kick), 5:53.
LC ” K.J. Daniels 47 pass from Jiru (Run failed), 6:25.
LC ” Keenan Williams 1 run (Williams run), :17.
NU ” Ryan 14 run (Bielen kick), :00.
NU ” Corey Browning 52 run (Bielen kick), 9:05.
By ZURI BERRY
CITRUS HEIGHTS ” Bear River’s football team had come to know the bitter taste of defeat and disappointment in the last three weeks. So when the Bruins tasted salt Friday night, it was a welcomed situation.
In a resounding, quick-strike fashion, Bear River (4-2-1 overall, 1-2 Pioneer Valley League) beat host Mesa Verde (1-6 overall, 0-4 PVC) 35-14 in a rainy contest.
The Bruins, who have made it their team motto to get back on track and salvage playoff hopes for the season, got back to basics. And they did it the Bruin way.
Bear River marched 71 yards on their first possession in six plays, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by fullback Gary Schmidt.
Free safety Brad Smith got an interception on the Mavericks’ next drive and the Bruins marched 56 more yards, keyed by a 35-yard run by Christopher Parfitt. Schmidt punched in his second touchdown of the night on a 1-yard dive to finish that drive as well.
The Bruins amassed 21 first downs in the game, a sign that the offense picked up at a key moment in the season.
“We knew that this just had to be a win,” Schmidt said. “We were sick of losing.”
Schmidt’s two touchdowns was two-thirds of the Bruins’ 21-point first quarter, in which they dominated the Mavericks in every aspect of the game.
Brandon Vallero added a 1-yard touchdown run to finish the first-quarter scoring bonanza.
Andy Parquette came on in the second half to score two touchdowns to add to his team lead 11 for the Bruins in a day that their offense was just as lethal as their defense, scoring on each of its first three series.
But the first quarter burst wasn’t enough to detract the Mavericks from giving up on the game with a 21-0 hole.
Mesa Verde quarterback Andrew Greene came on fire in the second quarter, completing three straight passes for 22, 28 and five yards to bring the Mavericks down to the 10-yard line.
Brandon Dobson then scored on a 10-yard run to put the Mavericks on the board. The team failed on the extra point attempt, making the score 21-6.
Greene amassed 224 passing yards against the Bruins, including a 61-yard touchdown strike to receiver Rashad Hines, his favorite target. But as the rain started to pour on, the quarterback’s receivers started to drop passes.
“I thought that’s what they’d do,” said Bear River co-head coach and defensive leader Terry Logue. “They’re not able to sustain a running game. But hey, you got to use your athletes to the best of their abilities. They put him in that shotgun and man they played a heckuva game.”
But Greene wasn’t the only quarterback showing off his rhythm in the game. The tandem of Bruins quarterback Drew Loftus and receiver Garrett Barbic made for a silky smooth combination as the two hooked up for four receptions and 79 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown that was called back because of a pass interference penalty.
In many respects, it was a prolific day for Loftus, who threw 8-for-12 for 126 yards in a run-dominated offense ” before it started raining in the second half.
“Every single pass he threw to me was perfect,” Barbic said after the game.
Said Loftus: “We knew (opponents) have been keying in on Barbic so we had changed it up. But this week we wanted to come back to him and take advantage of his height and leaping ability.”
Add in a solid running game and the Bruins have a win to be proud about.
Parfitt led the team with 114 yards rushing and Matt Belnap added another 90.
The defense was solid in its pass defense, racking up two interceptions on the day, one by Smith and another by Brandon Webb. Bear River had only gotten one interception all year until this point. And the defense accounted for five sacks, leading to Bear River’s coaches enjoying the all-around effort.
“Three words: Back-on-track,” said co-head coach Scott Savoie to his team after the game. “It’s going to feel really, really good to go to bed tonight with a win.”
Johnny Jewett ran wild against to lead the Bruins past the Mavericks 27-6 for the seventh win in Bear River’s perfect season.
Jewett totaled 101 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown. He also caught a 39-yard bomb from quarterback Brian Pedro for another touchdown.
Pedro threw two touchdowns on the day. His first touchdown was a 4-yard strike to Cody Van Fossen, who also kicked all of the team’s extra points.
Bear River 35, Mesa Verde 14
Bear River (4-2-1) 21 0 7 7 ” 35
Mesa Verde (1-6) 0 6 0 8 ” 14
BR – Gary Schmidt 4 run (Jared Murnan kick good), 9:07
BR – Schmidt 1 run (Murnan kick good), 5:36
BR – Vallero 1 run (Murnan kick good), 1:22
MV – Brandon Dobson 10 run (kick failed), 5:29
BR – Andy Parquette 1 run (Murnan kick good), 6:30
MV – Rashad Hines 61 pass from Andrew Greene (Hines pass from Greene), 9:45
BR – Parquette 8 run (Murnan kick good), 5:56
To contact Sports Writer Zuri Berry, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4244.
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