Hillmen drop Bruins
AUBURN – Bear River got the game it wanted, just not the execution it needed on key plays Friday night at Placer High School, as the host Hillmen turned a 14-6 halftime lead into a convincing 34-13 Pioneer Valley League victory over the Bruins.
Bear River (4-2 overall, 0-1 PVL) rushed for nearly 300 yards on the night, but could not come up with key conversions in the red zone, twice coming up empty deep in Placer territory, while the Hillmen came up with big plays that piled up points in a hurry in the second half.
“Our effort was there,” said Bruin co-head coach Scott Savoie. “We just made too many mistakes to win a game of this magnitude. That’s really what it comes down to. Our kids battled. I love that about them.
“The kids played their hearts out, but we just made too many mistakes. That’s the bottom line.”
The first costy error of the night came just after the Bruin defense had forced the Hillmen to punt after coming up empty on their third possession of the night. The Bruins had a 6-0 lead, thanks to Sam Houston’s 36-yard touchdown run, and looked ready to add to the margin.
But Bruin return man Trevor McGee was stripped of the ball and Placer recovered at the Bruin 15-yard line, from where Michael Robinson reached pay dirt one snap later. After Darren Centi’s PAT kick, Placer took the lead with 10:42 to go in the second quarter.
Placer (5-1, 1-0) moved the margin to 14-6 on its next possession after a poor punt put the Hillmen in business at midfield. Robinson ran off another 11-yard gain, before Josh Turney tore off a 24-yard score with 6:25 to go in the half.
That’s the where the scoreboard stood at halftime, thanks largely to the Bruin offense chewing up chunks of yardage and time on the clock with its ground game. Houston had a huge night, grinding out 169 yards on 29 carries.
“They were able to put together some real long drives,” said Placer coach Joey Montoya. “The did a good job executing their gameplan, which was to keep our offense off the field.
“Once we made some changes, and our kids stepped up in crucial situations and some plays, we had some things go our way.”
One play that went Placer’s way was perhaps the tipping point for the Bruins, whose co-head coach Terry Logue called it the ‘play of the game.’
The Bruins, and a pair of holding penalties, had put Placer in a third-and-27 at its own 23. But quarterback Collin Burnet scrambled around long enough to find Joe Mangino over the middle for a 25-yard gain, setting up fourth-and-two at the Placer 48. Robinson took a handoff to the right side and sped 52 yards for a touchdown and a 21-6 score with 9:59 to go in the third quarter.
Robinson, just a sophomore, rolled up 150 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. Turney totaled 63 on nine carries, as the Hillmen had 233 rushing yards in the game, and just another 28 through the air.
In addition to Houston’s night, Bear River got 32 rushing yards from Josh Toft, 23 yards from Dallen Heutter and 27 yards and a touchdown from Johnny Cassar.
Bear River 28, Placer 13
The Bruin junior varsity moved to 6-0 – and won for the 17th straight game, dating back to 2008 – as Micahel Raigoza, Cody Heard and Dillon Smith each scored a touchdown for Bear River.
“Our punter, J’Sean Harwood, also deserves a lot of credit,” said Bruin coach Chris Bean. “When we couldn’t move the ball, we were holding up defensively just enough … and he kept pinning them back and pinning them back.
“And then Hayden Macklin got the interception and Raigoza got the touchdown. Cody Heard also came up with one of the most amazing interceptions I’ve seen, a one-hander over the middle of the field. It was unbelievable. That was special.”
As was the Bruin defense, which limited a team that had averaged 42 points per contest to a mere 13 on the night.
“That was an absolute dogfight,” Bean said. “That’s a very, very talented, well-coached football team.”
Placer 34, Bear River 13
Bear River (4-2) 6 0 0 7 – 13
Placer (5-1) 0 14 7 13 – 34
BR – Sam Houston 36 run (Kick failed), 4:06.
P – Michael Robinson 15 run (Darren Centi kick), 10:42
P – Josh Turney 24 run (Centi kick), 6:25
P – Robinson 52 run (Centi kick), 9:59.
P – Robinson 1 run (Kick failed) 11:01.
P – Will Slane 3 run (Centi kick), 7:45.
BR – Johnny Cassar 11 run (Jack Tortorici kick), 2:28.
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The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.