PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River knocks off Center, advances to D-V semifinals (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY) | TheUnion.com

PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River knocks off Center, advances to D-V semifinals (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY)

Brian Shepard
Special to The Union

The Bear River football team was all business Friday night as they took a big step toward defending its Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title.

Playing in frigid conditions at J. David Ramsey Stadium, the No. 3 seed Bruins put the No. 6 seed Center Cougars on ice with a gritty 28-13 win to advance to next week's semifinals.

"Our number one goal was to score every time we got down near the goal line because last time we played (Center) we didn't score in the red zone," said Bruins co-head coach Terry Logue, whose offense got contributions from all around and featured three different quarterbacks. "We worked on short yardage. We put people where we knew the ball was coming. We're predictable down near the goal line, but we tell our kids, 'If you block right and run right you can't be stopped.'"

And, there was no stopping the Bear River attack when it mattered most.

Ahead 21-13 with about three minutes remaining, the Bruins faced a third-and-15 from their own 40 yard line. In a role reversal, junior running back Tre Maronic dropped back to pass and found senior quarterback Calder Kunde for an incredible 34-yard reception to move the chains and keep the clock ticking. Three plays later senior fullback Hunter Daniels blasted through the middle and high-stepped his way into the end zone from 18-yards out for his third score of the game, putting a final exclamation point on a hard-fought victory.

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"We had the first week bye so we've had two weeks to prepare for them, and we knew after the first game winning two games in a row against the same team is a little bit hard to do," said Daniels, who finished with 23 carries for 113 yards and a trio of touchdowns. "We knew we had to gut up and pick up all the efforts and go ahead and try to run it down the gut, run it down their throat. It was a good team effort, good blocking. The defense did phenomenal and it was a really good all-around game for everybody."

Sharing the success out if the backfield was Maronic, who powered his way for 61 yards on 16 touches, followed by Kunde, who tallied 32 yards on eight attempts.

Through the air, the Bruins were three-fold, with Kunde completing 6-of-15 for 94 yards and a score, followed by Colton Jenkins, who finished 2-of-2 for 45 yards and Maronic, whose 34-yard completion put Center on the ropes. Bergez-Scott led the Bruins in the receiving department with six grabs for 124 yards.

Bear River never trailed at any point in the contest, scoring first on its opening drive, going 67 yards on 12 plays, capped with a 1-yard plunge by Daniels.

The Cougars would knot things up at 7-7 in the closing minutes of the first half when senior halfback Elias Bonds busted loose for a 61-yard scamper to the house.

Coming out strong in the third quarter, The Bruins blocked a Center punt to set themselves up with great field position. After working the ball down inside the 10, the Bruins faced third-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Kunde sold a beautiful fake handoff up the middle and turned out of the pocket to find a wide open Josiah Cregar for the score and a 14-7 lead.

On Center's ensuing possession, the Bruins forced the Cougars out of their comfort zone and into a third-and-long. That's when Bear River's Bergez-Scott came away with a key interception.

Mixing in runs from Daniels, Kunde, Maronic and Clayton Anderson, it was Daniels who eventually ended the 60-yard drive by pounding his way in for a 2-yard score and a seemingly comfortable 21-7, two-score cushion.

Center wasn't ready to pack it in though, and answered right back with a 57-yard touchdown run by quarterback Michael Wortham to pull the Cougars back to within a score at 21-13. The point after was no good and the Bruins offense would grind it out from there.

"That Wortham, that quarterback No. 6, he's a heck of an athlete," said Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie. "At any given time him or No. 1 (Bonds) can get loose and spoil things for you."

Outside of Center's two big scoring plays that totaled 118 yards, defensively the Bruins held the Cougars to 50 yards rushing on 17 attempts and just 5-of-11 passing for 52 yards with an interception.

Senior Trae Nix led the Bruins with 11 tackles, followed Daniels with 10, Sam Davis with six and Austin Slining with five. Warren Davis took down Center's Wortham for a big 10-yard sack.

Next up for Bear River (10-1) is a road bout with No. 2 Ripon, who throttled No. 7 Mountain House 49-20.

Also posting wins in the D-V bracket were No. 1 Colfax defeating No. 8 Los Banos, 56-21, and No. 4 Sonora edging No. 5 Foothill, 28-27. Colfax and Sonora will square off in the other D-V semifinal.

Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.

BRUINS 28, COUGARS 13

STAT LEADERS

BR: Hunter Daniels – 113 rush yards, 3 rushing TDs, 10 tackles

BR: Dylan Bergez-Scott – 6 catches, 124 receiving yards, interception

BR: Calder Kunde – 98 passing yards, 32 rushing yards, 1 passing TD

BR: Tre Maronic – 61 rushing yards, 34 passing yards

BR: Trae Nix – 11 tackles

SCORE BY QUARTER

FIRST QUARTER

BR; Hunter Daniels 1-yard run (Dylan Bergez-Scott kick) 7:27

SECOND QUARTER

C: Elias Bonds 61-yard run (Brandon Stanley kick) 2:58

THIRD QUARTER

BR: Josiah Cregar 1-yard pass from Calder Kunde (Bergez-Scott kick) 5:29

FOURTH QUARTER

BR: Daniels 2-yard run (Bergez-Scott kick) 6:38

C: Michael Wortham 57-yard run (kick missed) 6:18

BR: Daniels 18-yard run (Bergez-Scott kick) 1:57

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