Bear River rallies late, downs rival Colfax
Special to The Union
BRUINS 21, FALCONS 20
C: Marcus Jackson 2-yard run (3:12) PAT no good
C: Jackson 26-yard pass to Matthew Harshman (9:23) Kyle Detwieler kick
BR: John Voter III 2-yard run (2:45) Ben O’ Lena kick
C: Tim Rawlins 2-yard run (7:01) Detwieler kick
BR: Jason Voter 7-yard pass to John Voter III (10:40) O’Lena kick
BR: Kyle Uclaray 12-yard run (1:36) O’Lena kick
My oh my how the tide can turn.
That’s what Colfax must be thinking to itself right about now after letting a 20-7 lead disappear in the fourth quarter. Bear River throttled the Falcons when it mattered most to grab a 21-20 victory Friday night at Robert O. Marson Field.
“Before we went out I told my team, ‘They aren’t respecting us,’” said Bruins running back Kyle Uclaray, who finished the game with 11 rushes for 67 yards and the game-winning score with 1-minute, 36 seconds left to play. “Respect isn’t something you can have, respect is earned. My line told me they would block their butts off for me and I told them I would get them the W.”
Uclaray took a hand off from quarterback Jason Voter on second down from the Falcons 12-yard line. He went around the right side, broke loose, cut up the sideline, dove, stretched out and knocked over the pylon for the touchdown. The point after by kicker Ben O’Lena was good and the Bruins led 21-20 with 1-minute, 36 seconds to play.
The Bear River defense rose up to the tall task of halting the Falcons one last time. Fueled by a chorus of cowbells and a boisterous BruinNation in the stands that would not be silenced. The Falcons worked their way to their own 43 yard line before facing a fourth-and-long. Quarterback Marcus Jackson heaved a pass over the middle and it flirted with the fingertips of his receiver before eventually hitting the grass.
“To me I feel like my team has character,” said Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie. “Like we said to them, ‘Never give up.’ It’s easier said than done, but we hung in there, kept swinging and it paid off for us.”
With about six and a half minutes left in regulation the Falcons were knocking at the door, looking to put the game on ice with a 20-14 lead. Senior running back Tim Rawlins busted a tackle and forged ahead to the Bear River 5-yard line but Bear River’s Ryan Wagner forced a fumble and the ball went out the back of the endzone for a touchback. The Bruins then began their 80-yard game-winning drive.
“We fought hard,” said Colfax head coach Tony Martello. “(Bear River) has a great team over there. We can’t have two TD’s taken off the board and expect to win a game like that.”
Rawlins and the Colfax backfield had a rough time breaking through for big gains against the Bear River defense. Early on it was Falcons quarterback Marcus Jackson that did the damage. Jackson threw 14-for-21 passing for 129 yards and a 26-yard touchdown to wide receiver Matthew Harshman to make it 13-0. Jackson also piled up 57 yards rushing on eight carries as he scrambled out of the pocket, including a 1-yard plunge to give his team the early edge.
However, Colfax had trouble putting its PAT attempt through the uprights thanks to Bear River’s Cannon Fetter, who blocked it. That would eventually come back to haunt the Falcons. Bear River would also get a defensive push from John Voter III and Josh Davis, who together blocked a Colfax field goal attempt later in the second half.
“The first TD they scored I just stuck my hands up and felt that ball,” said Fetter. “And it felt good.”
It was a Pioneer Valley League game for the ages and the script couldn’t have been any better for the Bruins, who managed to come out on top. Bear River actually had themselves to blame for their early hole. It was a flag-fest much of the first quarter for Bear River as it racked 55 yards in penalties. The Falcons shot themselves in the foot a couple times with holding penalties that took away would-be scores. They also committed a couple of late pass interference and roughing calls that aided the Bruins.
Voter III got Bear River its first points of the game in the second quarter with a 2-yard plunge, which was set up beautifully by a 40-yard hook and ladder from Jason Voter to Ryan Wagner to Kyle Uclaray, who took the pitch from Wagner and set up first-and-goal. Voter III finished with six carries for 15 yards with the rushing touchdown and a 7-yard reception for a score early in the fourth quarter, which cut Colfax’s lead to 20-14.
“We preached constantly, ‘Don’t give up,’” said Bruins co-head coach Terry Logue. “We got back in it with the hitch and pitch. Every new play we tried out was working for us. Twice we stopped them on the goal line. No. 2 holy cow he runs hard. We wrote out in the scouting report, ‘This is what you play for,’ and it turned out to be one of those kind of games.”
Everyone contributed for the Bear River offense and it all started with the offensive line. Dave Mastrella was able to get his share and help carry some of the load. He ran six carries for 32 yards. David O’Brien returned for Bear River from his shoulder injury and ran the wildcat formation, mixing things up as he tallied 27 yards on six carries. Quarterback Jason Voter was clutch when he needed to be as he threw 9-for-17 for 94 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.
Defensively for the Bruins, Kyle Krogman led the charge with 12 tackles, followed by Conner Hollister, who wrapped up 11. The Bear River defense held Colfax to 190 yards rushing on 37 carries. Rawlins had a season-low performance of just 79 yards on 20 touches, but did score one touchdown. Lukas Rineer tallied 14 yards on five carries and Sam LaHaie contributed four rushes for 40 yards.
Bear River (6-1, 2-0 PVL), which clinched not only another winning season, but now has the inside track for a playoff spot, will savor this victory before it hits the road next week for another tough PVL battle at Placer on Friday.
JV: Bear River 20, Colfax 7
The Bruins (3-4, 2-0 PVL) rattled off their third consecutive win Friday night in dominating fashion, turning a 7-0 deficit into a two-score victory as they completely shut down the Falcons in the second half.
Bear River knotted the game 7-7 early on with a quarterback keeper by Bradley Dzioba. In the second half the Bruins forced a fumble, which was recovered by Asher Fong. The team seized the momentum and capitalized on the turnover with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Dzioba to Peyton Turner. Toran Maronic later added some insurance for the Bruins with a 1-yard plunge into the endzone to seal it.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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The 2021 High School Optimist All Star teams for baseball, softball and boys volleyball have been announced, and several local student-athletes made the cut.