Bear River playoff bound
LINCOLN – Ask anyone familiar with the Bear River football program and they’ll let you know it’s not often that you’ll find co-head coach Terry Logue speechless.
But that was the case Friday night, after Bear River beat host Lincoln 21-18 in a battle between 3-0 Pioneer Valley League teams. The win not only was the fifth in a row for Bear River, it also locked up a playoff berth.
Standing before a happy huddle of Bruins, an emotional Logue started to speak, stopped and then simply gave a thumbs up before adding, “That was great.”
Thinking back to the preseason camp and then to Bear River’s 1-2 start to the season, Logue’s thoughts finally caught up with his emotions as he looked over a celebratory scene inside Lincoln’s brand new stadium.
“When I look back at where we were eight weeks ago, to think these kids came out and did this, I just have to give them so much credit,” said Logue, who took over the Bear River program in its second year of existence back in 1987, which was also the last time Lincoln defeated the Bruins.
“We’ve got 28 guys out there, beating each other up in practice every day. But they made the sacrifice and they started believing in themselves. I am. I am speechless and what these guys have pulled off.”
The Bruins (6-2 overall, 4-0 PVL) took control early, after senior linebacker Axel Wadman intercepted a pass from Lincoln quarterback Michael Dasilva on the third play of the game. The pick set the Bruins up for business at the Zebras’ 34-yard line.
Eleven grinding plays later, the Bruins put the ball in the end zone when senior standout C.J. Crausby scored on a 1-yard run. Jared Murnan added the first of three point-after-touchdown kicks for a 7-0 lead with just more than five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Crausby again showed his versatility, rushing for 81 yards and two touchdowns and completing 7-of-10 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown pass to Wadman. He also caught a pass for a 10-yard gain and, on the defensive side of the ball, limited Lincoln’s top receiver Jordan Yarber to just two catches for 15 yards in a man-to-man matchup for most of the night.
Crausby and his fellow seniors lost to Lincoln at both the freshman and junior varsity levels, when the Zebras claimed PVL championships. The win, he said, was especially satisfying considering that fact, along with securing the playoff berth and knowing just four other players returned to the Bear River roster with varsity experience this fall.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Crausby said. “It’s hard to explain where we came from to get here tonight.
“It just feels so good that words really can’t explain it.”
Glancing at the game statistics, one might contend the final outcome needs further explanation, as Lincoln outgained the Bruins 318 to 201 in total yardage and racked up 21 first downs to Bear River’s 13.
In short, Bear River’s defense bent but didn’t break Friday night and provided a pair of key defensive stands to keep the Zebras at arm’s length in the win.
Just before the end of the first half, with Bear River clinging to a 14-6 advantage, Lincoln drove inside the Bruins’ 10-yard line – thanks to a controversial pass interference penalty on second-and-8 with 22 seconds remanning in the half.
The Bruins then limited the Zebras to one yard throughout the next three plays, setting up fourth-and-goal at the Bruins’ 9-yard line. Dasilva rolled to his right and ran the ball near the goal line, but Bear River junior Matt Belnap stopped the quarterback short to turn the ball over on downs.
With 5 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the game and the Bruins ahead 21-12, Lincoln faced fourth-and-6 at the Bear River 30-yard line. But Bear River defensive lineman Tommy Jones, a 5-foot, 6-inch 153-pound tackle, dragged Dasilva down to turn the ball back over to the Bruins.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Wadman, who finished with 13 tackles (7 solo) and an interception. “I’m just so proud of every one of those guys over there.
“We like that people were doubting us (after the 1-2 start). This is what happens when they doubt us. We showed them.”
Belnap had 14 solo tackles on the night and three assists. Mitchell Militano totaled 16 stops, including 10 solo, and forced a fumble. Kenny Giacomini and Gary Schmidt joined Jones with a quarterback sack.
After securing one of three PVL playoff spots, the Bruins now turn their focus to next week’s matchup with league-newcomer El Dorado. One week later, the Bruins will close the regular season against rival Colfax.
“To know in week eight that we could lock up a playoff berth, I’m blown away,” said Bruin co-head coach Scott Savoie. “I’m just so elated for these kids for as far as they have come.
“I mean, Coach Logue is speechless. That doesn’t happen very often.”
JV: Bear River 42, Lincoln 0
Chris Sarradet scored two touchdowns and Bear River’s defense pitched a shutout as the Bruins improved to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in PVL play with a 42-0 blitz of host Lincoln.
“This was a good game,” said Bear River coach Duane Zauner, who claimed his 149th career victory in 21 seasons as the only coach in the history of Bear River’s junior varsity. “We’re finally understanding what we should do. It was a great team win. Everyone contributed.”
Five Bruins scored touchdowns on the night, including Garrett Barbic, Chris Parfitt, Alex Loza and Jason Varni.
Loza and Chris Kammerer each intercepted passes for the Bruins.
Frosh: Bear River 26, Lincoln 0
Pitching their seventh shutout of the season, Bear River’s freshman team moved to 8-0 with a 26-0 win at Lincoln Thursday night.
The Bruins have allowed just six points on the season, and Bear River’s starting defensive unit has yet to allow a single point. Bruin coach Dick Werntz said he hasn’t seen anything of the sort in the history of Bear River freshman football.
“We had a team with five shutouts and they only gave up 55 points on the season,” Werntz said. “No team at our school has done this. This team is just amazing.”
The Bruins had two defensive stands to keep Lincoln out of the end zone, stalling the Zebras at the 5 and the 18 yard lines.
Brandon Fry ran for a touchdown and did Johnny Jewett, while Brian Pedro ran for a touchdown and connected with Cole White on a 60-yard touchdown pass.
Bear River 21, Lincoln 18
BR (6-2) 7 7 7 0 — 21
L (5-3) 0 6 0 12 — 18
BR – C.J. Crausby 1 run (Jared Murnan kick), 5:25
L – Rex Sievers 24 run (Kick failed), 9:38
BR – Crausby 12 run (Murnan kick), 5:16
BR – Axel Wadman 4 pass from Crausby (Murnan kick), 6:56
L – Austin Roiux 49 run (Run failed), 10:41
L – Myles Weck 35 pass from Russell Burke (Kick failed), :36
First downs 13 21
Rushes-yards 38-136 48-203
Passing 65 115
Comp-Att-Int 8-12-1 11-21-1
Penalties 4-26 1-5
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-0
Rushing – Bear River, Crausby 20-81, Matt Belnap 8-29, Gary Schmidt 5-12, David Richey 3-11, Andy Parquette 2-3. Lincoln, Nic Cova 11-48, Brett Farebrother 3-4, Roiux 17-121, Sievers 7-35, Michael Dasilva 9-3, Weck 1-(minus 8).
Passing – Bear River, Crausby 7-10-0 for 55 yards, Drew Loftus 1-2-1 for 10 yards. Lincoln, Dasilva 10-17-1 for 80 yards, Weck 0-3-0, Burke 1-1-0 for 35 yards.
Receiving- Bear River, Wadman 2-5, Crausby 1-10, Lars Nielsen 4-48, Belnap 1-2. Lincoln, Danny Reeves 5-37, Jordan Yarber 2-15, Weck 2-47, Sievers 1-7, Tyler Hutchinson 1-9.
Junior varsity – Bear River 42, Lincoln 0
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