Bear River pulls off tight victory over Highlands
Lessons like this don’t often come with a win. When Bear River quarterback Dillon Smith dislocated his non-throwing shoulder in the first quarter Friday at Ramsey Stadium, the Bruins found themselves staring at a big, battering Highlands squad without three stars: linebacker Zach Winter (ankle), fullback Andrew Reiss Jr. (suspension), and now Smith.
“Losing Dillon,” Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie said, “that changes everything for us.”
It didn’t change the result, though, as the Bruins (3-0) continued their undefeated season by beating the Scots 29-28.
Running back Cody Heard scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run with four minutes, four seconds left, and two more timely plays by Heard sealed the win.
On Highlands’ possession following Heard’s touchdown, Heard (also a linebacker) timed the Scots’ snap-count perfectly to sack Cheapell Morris, forcing a third-and-16 at the Highlands 41-yard line. Two plays later, the Scots turned the ball over on downs.
Heard, on the ensuing possession, fought for an 18-yard run that allowed the Bruins to run out the clock.
“Heard gave us everything he possibly had tonight,” Savoie said.
The senior finished with 49 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Raigoza also ran for two touchdowns — one in the second quarter (7 yards) and one in the third quarter (16 yards). Raigoza, a senior, said after the win that he’s been embracing a role as a leader this season.
“The best thing about tonight,” he said, “is that we battled back from adversity.”
Among the changes in Savoie’s game plan after Smith went out was an adoption of a four-down mentality. The Bruins went for it on fourth down four times, three times successfully.
Bear River also stuck to the ground more than usual. Cameron Barrios, Smith’s backup, completed 3-of-5 passes for 27 yards and an interception. Smith didn’t pass once before his injury.
This is the first year that Barrios, a senior, has ever played quarterback.
“He did what we needed a backup quarterback to do and then some,” Savoie said. “I’m very proud of him.”
Savoie expects Smith to be healthy enough to start Friday’s game at River Valley, the first of a four-straight road games. Winter and Reiss will also expect to be back.
But the Bruins’ lesson after beating Highlands is that they can find ways to win, even in the absence of some of their biggest stars.
JV: Bear River 38,
Bruins quarterback Austin Smith rushed for three touchdowns and passed for 117 yards, as Bear River improved to 2-0-1 on the season.
Kyle Krogman led the Bruins’ rushing attack with two touchdowns and 98 yards.
Defensively, Cade Mathews had an interception and five tackles. Colton Salivar also had pick.
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