PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River drops PVL opener to Lincoln
Special to The Union
FIGHTING ZEBRAS 27 BRUINS 14
BR: Stephen Taylor 25-yard run (6:10) Extra point no good
L: Ryan Graham 3-yard run (5:55) Extra point good
L: Graham 2-yard run (7:01) Extra point good
L: Taras Zbyshko 7-yard run (1:41) Extra point good
BR: Taylor 4-yard pass from Bradley Dzioba (6:28) 2pt conversion good
L: Graham 13-yard run (1:26) Extra point no good
The Bruins couldn’t keep pace with the Fighting Zebras in their Pioneer Valley League opener, losing, 27-14, Friday night at J. David Ramsey Stadium.
“Tough game, but give (Lincoln) credit,” said Bruins co-head coach Terry Logue. “They gutted up and we couldn’t stop No. 21. He ran really hard. We lost (Austin) Baze and that really, really hurt us and then lost (Colton) Wood, but that’s the game of football you know.”
The Bruins battled on despite losing key players in Baze and Wood to injury early on.
Bear River did strike first in the game, looking unstoppable on its opening drive as it marched 78 yards on 15 plays and overcame two fourth downs before junior Stephen Taylor outran Zebra defenders for a 25-yard score to put the Bruins up 6-0.
Lincoln tried to answer back with a long drive of its own, but Bruins’ Luke Baggett nabbed an interception in the end zone to keep the Zebras off the board. However, Lincoln found its stride soon after and kept Bear River back on its heels the rest of the night, taking a 7-6 lead into the half which it would never relinquish.
The Bruins were unable to come away with any points after a 14-play, 70-yard drive stalled at the Lincoln 6-yard line late in the second quarter. A 23-yard field goal attempt went wide left.
“We just said, ‘Hey it’s going to be physical and that’s the way it’s going to be,’” said Lincoln head coach Chris Bean, who was thrilled with his team’s performance up front. “The way the offense responded showed you everything that we were going to be. I felt the offensive line finally started to gel. Obviously they’re a huge line, but that’s not what makes them great. The technique, the explosion, everything we were trying to get them to be showed up here tonight.”
Lincoln racked up 323 yards of total offense with 247 of it coming on the ground through gaping holes. Senior Ryan Graham led the charge, piling up 160 yards on 27 attempts with three touchdowns. Quarterback Isaac Adams was 10-of-14 passing for 76 yards with an interception.
Trailing 21-6 with under 7 minutes to play, Bear River faced a crucial fourth-and-goal from the Zebras 4-yard line. Senior quarterback Bradley Dzioba rolled out of the pocket and lofted a pass to Taylor on a fade route, who hauled in the score. Dzioba found Calder Kunde for the 2-pt conversion, cutting the Zebras lead to 21-14, but that’s as close as the Bruins would get.
Baze left the game in the second quarter and was badly missed on both sides of the ball. Senior running back Peyton Turner picked up the slack, making some impressive cuts up field to lead the team with 54 yards rushing on 13 touches. He was followed by Taylor, who finished with seven carries for 48 yards and a pair of touchdowns one rushing and another receiving.
“You only get so many opportunities in a game like this,” added Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie. “First half I think they got the ball like three times and we got it three times. We had a chance to score down there, chance to get a field goal. We didn’t capture our chances.”
Dzioba finished the game 11-of-20 passing for 77 yards with a touchdown. Leading receivers for the Bruins was Solomon Branch, who had three catches for 54 yards.
Even after the Bruins pulled to within a score, the Zebras offense showed no signs of slowing down as it stampeded down the field 80 yards in 10 plays to score with under 2 minutes left.
Defensively for the Bruins, Baggett led the way with 12 tackles to go with his interception. Shane Flores wrapped up 11 tackles, followed by Baze with nine, Landen Clark with eight and Calder Kunde with six.
Bear River (2-4, 0-1 PVL) is back in action at home next week when it welcomes Foothill.
JV: LINCOLN 8, BEAR RIVER 6
The Bruins (3-3, 0-1 PVL) jumped out front in the second quarter on a goal line fade route hauled in by Logan Jenkins from quarterback Tre Moronic, but the extra point was blocked. Lincoln tied the game early in the fourth quarter and fumbled on its 2-pt try yet the Zebras still managed to recover and convert to take the lead.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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