Bruins best Cougars for league victory
PLACERVILLE – When the Bear River Bruins football team needed its secondary to step up the most, its defensive line bailed them out.
With 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter Joel Davis turned a would-be sack into a broken up pass and the Bruins held on with one more play to beat Pioneer Valley League opponent El Dorado, 24-21, Friday night.
It was a season-saving effort by the entire defense, holding off the Cougars (3-6 overall, 1-5 PVL) in the waning seconds of the game after leading for the majority of the night.
Bear River and El Dorado went into the fourth quarter with Bear River leading 10-7. The Bruins rallied in the first two minutes – after sputtering the whole night – to score on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Drew Loftus to Garrett Barbic. But just as Bear River was heating up, so was El Dorado.
Cougar quarterback Jared Gavard threw three touchdown passes in the game – all to wide receiver Trevor Peterson – including a 69-yard bomb Peterson bobbled and got control of after being hit by a Bruin defender. Peterson raced his way to the end zone to complete the one-play drive and pump up the El Dorado sideline.
The score put El Dorado within striking distance at 17-13 – the Cougars failed on a two-point conversion attempt.
After a Bear River and subsequent El Dorado punt, Jason Varni, substituting for an injured Matt Belnap, who went down in the third quarter, took three straight handoffs around the left side getting the Bruins down to the 5-yard line. He finished with 50 yards in the fourth quarter but not before he took his fourth straight carry on the drive around the right edge for a quick turnaround touchdown and a 24-12 score.
With 3:19 left in the game, the Bruins appeared to be up for good but the PVL’s leading passing team wasn’t ready to count itself out.
Gavard threw his third touchdown pass of the night to Peterson who slipped by the Bruin secondary for a 39-yard touchdown with 2:23 left in the game. Gavard then took it upon himself, running in for the two-point conversion to make it 24-21 and put the Cougars within a heartbeat of an upset.
“They were going hurry up and we knew we were tired,” said Davis, a defensive lineman. “But we knew our season was on the line and how much this meant to us.”
It all set up a mad scramble by the Cougars to attempt a last-second touchdown. After forcing Bear River into a three-and-out, the Cougars took Jared Murnan’s punt at their own 4-yard line and went no huddle the rest of the way.
Gavard, with 1:17 in the game left, completed five straight passes to the Bruin 35-yard line before he met Davis, who grabbed the quarterback and pulled him down as he came around the end, in what appeared to be a sack and fumble with less than 10 seconds left in the game. But the referee ruled it was an incomplete pass and stopped the clock, giving El Dorado another shot at the end zone.
The Bruins, in their prevent defense, blanketed El Dorado’s receivers with Kyler Leventin grabbing an interception out of bounds. Bear River accounted for three interceptions on the night, including two by Leventin.
“They battled back,” said co-head coach Scott Savoie. “Gosh darn it, they’re throwing for the game-winning touchdown at the end there. I tip my hat to the El Dorado kids.”
Murnan’s 29-yard field goal in the third quarter may have made the difference, while Andy Parquette’s second quarter touchdown got the Bruins rolling.
The win sets up a huge contest between the Bruins and Colfax, whom Bear River hasn’t beaten since 2000, with a playoff berth hanging in the balance.
Belnap led the Bruins with 90 yards on the ground before leaving with an ankle injury. He said he expects to be back for the Colfax game at J. David Ramsey Stadium.
Bear River 28, El Dorado 20
The Bruins survived a hostile environment, their own errors and a threatening Cougar offense to secure the team’s ninth-straight victory Friday, 28-20.
Johnny Jewett piled on three touchdowns and Cole White added another.
The Bruins were called for four personal fouls on the day, including an awkward helmet-to-helmet on White, while he was playing running back. White lowered his head and shoulders to take on a pursuing tackler and was flagged for giving out the hit.
It didn’t stop him from trying it again, except this time without penalty, rushing 16 yards and lowering his shoulder against another El Dorado defender before being brought down at the 4-yard line. He punched in the touchdown the next play.
“This is a hostile environment,” coach Duane Zauner. “But we got two huge drives at the end that really made the difference.”
Jewett, who has been stellar for the junior varsity squad, reflected a little bit on the season with one major game left – Colfax.
“We’ve really gelled,” he said. “We’ve been playing with each other for a long time. None of this would be possible without the great blocking of course.”
To contact Sports Writer Zuri Berry, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4244.
Bear River 24, El Dorado 21
Bear River (6-2-1) 0 7 3 14 – 24
El Dorado (3-6) 0 7 0 14 – 21
BR – Andy Parquette 1 run (Jared Murnan kick), 4:38
ED- Trevor Peterson 3 pass from Jared Gavard (Gavard kick), :17
BR – Murnan 29 field goal, :48
BR – Garrett Barbic 20 pass from Drew Loftus (Murnan kick), 8:53
ED – Peterson 69 pass from Gavard (Two-point failed), 8:34
BR – Jason Varni 5 run (Murnan kick), 3:19
ED – Peterson 39 pass from Gavard (Gavard run), 2:23
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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.