Bruins clinch playoff spot with PVL win over Lincoln
Team 1 2 3 4 — F
Bear River 7 7 10 0 — 24
Lincoln 0 7 0 7 — 14
BR: Hunter Cramer 6-yard pass from Dillon Smith (Blake Nielsen kick); 5:04
L: Cameron Tatem 30-yard pass from Davis Dykstra (Gio Diaz kick); 10:29
BR: Andrew Reiss Jr. 1-yard run (Nielsen kick); 6:33
BR: Nielsen 19-yard field goal; 5:29
BR: Austin Dowling 26-yard run (Nielsen kick); 3:32
L: Chirstian Long 2-yard run (Diaz Kick); 4:32
Friday’s 24-14 victory over Lincoln puts the Bear River football team (7-2 overall, 2-2 Pioneer Valley League) into the playoffs, and there is much relief that it won’t come down to next week’s contest against Foothill.
“Amen, it feels great. Lots of pressure lifted off us,” said co-head coach Terry Logue. “Lincoln didn’t quit. The field goal by Blake (Nielsen) was huge, putting us up by two scores. (Caleb) Johnson also had a breakout night on offense. They held Placer to 10 points, so it was a good win against a good team.”
The Bruins did what they needed to do — they scored points, and they didn’t waste time doing it. Beginning the night on defense, the Bruins stopped the Fighting Zebras in their tracks, giving up only 15 yards on six carries during the opening drive. After receiving the punt, the Bruins marched 61 yards before quarterback Dillon Smith hooked up with Hunter Cramer on a 6-yard touchdown reception.
The next drive for the Zebras wasn’t much better, as the Bruins held them to just 14 yards on five carries. After regaining possession of the ball, Bear River’s Smith dropped back to pass and was stripped from behind on his own 46-yard line. Two plays later, the Zebras found their stride when quarterback Davis Dykstra connected with reciver Cameron Tatem for a 30-yard touchdown completion.
The Bruins answered right back like they’ve done so many times this season with a 55-yard drive composed of nine rush plays, the final one with Andrew Reiss Jr. plunging a yard into the end zone to give his team a lead that stood into the half.
Smith finished the game 3-of-8 passing for 53 yards. Cramer had the 6-yard touchdown catch to go with six tackles and an interception on defense. Johnson, who stepped up bigger than he had this season, had 13 carries for a 85 yards. Reiss Jr. had five carries for 8 yards and a touchdown. Austin Dowling had five carries for 37 yards.
“That play Cramer made on defense was insane,” said co-head coach Scott Savoie. “Several guys ran the ball, and it helps to have that depth, but Johnson was our guy tonight.”
On defense, Jake Savoie had six tackles and one and a half sacks. Cody Heard had 10 tackles and one and a half sacks. J’Sean Harwood had 13 tackles and a sack. Brad Botsford took it up a notch with his 14 tackles and a sack. Linebacker Zach Winter got in on the action too, wrapping up 17 total tackles.
“We faced a good set of backs tonight, and our backers stepped it up,” Winter said. “Botsford had a great game. We definitely regained our confidence tonight.”
The game had several goal-line stands. Bear River made one at the end of the first half with two huge sacks that backed the Zebras up and sent them away empty. Another came after Cramer’s 21-yard intercetion return that set up the Bruins at first-and-goal on Licoln’s 1-yard line. Bear River came away empty-handed but quickly made up for it with Winter’s fumble recovery and converted a field goal a little more than halfway through the third quarter to give the Bruins a 17-7 edge.
After another Lincoln fumble, Bear River took advantage with a three-play drive that featured a 30-yard pass and two short runs with Austin Dowling getting the touchdown to give the Bruins a 24-7 cushion.
The Zebras didn’t give up though, putting together a 64-yard drive, kept alive by two huge fourth-down conversions. The drive ended with a turnover on downs as Bear River halted them at the 2-yard line.
The Bruins’ next possession didn’t go so smoothly, and they went three-and-out and had their punt blocked. Lincoln eventually scored on the short field with a 2-yard run to make it 24-14. The onside kick failed and Bear River ran precious seconds off the clock without turning the ball over, before punting back to Lincoln whose luck and time had run out.
“Our main goal was to score points,” quarterback Smith said. “Our D got off the line quick and made some great plays, too. Next week is still important. Our coaches say we have a chance for a home playoff game depending on how we’re seeded.”
JV: Bear River 27, Lincoln 0
The Bruins (7-1-1, 4-0 PVL) defeated the Fighting Zebras to remain perfect in PVL play and clinch at least a share of the league title.
All Bear River needed was its defense, which outscored its offense 15-12.
Quarterback Austin Smith was 4-of-9, passing for 62 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Uclaray. Kyle Krogman had six carries for 37 yards and a 13-yard touchdown run led by Conner Hollister’s dominating blocking out front. Hollister finished with five tackles and a sack.
Uclaray also contributed to the defense with two interceptions, one of which he returned 18 yards for a touchdown. Travis Whitehead chipped in six tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Jason Voter had an interception return good for 25 yards. Krogman wrapped up six tackles and a sack. And Cole Clark had four tackles and a 43-yard scoop and run for a touchdown off another fumble.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, email email@example.com or call (530) 477-4234.
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