PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River falls to Placer, looks to finish strong (VIDEO)
Special to The Union
Hillmen 26, Bruins 14
P: Owen Scott 3-yard run (2:39) Andrea Prieto kick
P: Waylen Cozad 4-yard run (5:46) PAT no good
BR: Beau Baggett 1-yard run (3:21) Ben O’Lena kick
BR: Dave Mastrella 5-yard run (:30) O’Lena kick
P: Scott 1-yard run (5:42) 2pt try no good
P: Derek Haney 11-yard run (3:20) Prieto kick
A few days after and, in all likelihood, this one still stings a bit.
Friday night’s 26-14 loss to Placer drops the Bruins to 7-1 overall and 2-1 in Pioneer Valley League play, but still with two road games remaining, Bear River has a lot to play for and can likely clinch a home playoff game if it wins out.
“There’s nobody in Divison-V like that,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue, referring to Placer, who scored 13 unanswered points in just over two minutes late in the fourth quarter to hand the Bruins their first loss of the season. “We’re going to be fine. The Bruins are going to be fine. We got to regroup next week, win the last two games and get a great playoff seed.”
Once trailing 13-0, Bear River rallied back with a pair of scores to take the lead 14-13. The Bruins drove 79 yards on eight plays late in the second quarter and capped the drive with a 1-yard Beau Baggett plunge, trimming the Hillmen lead to 13-7 at the half. Senior quarterback Jason Voter stayed poised in the pocket with great protection and connected with Ben O’Lena twice for 65 yards to keep the drive alive.
The Bruins’ second and final score came in the third quarter on an eight-play 59-yard drive with senior Dave Mastrella getting the edge for a 5-yard touchdown run. Mastrella set up his team with first-and-goal after a 31-yard scamper on the previous play. However, from there Placer stole back momentum with an 83-yard scoring drive and then iced it after smothering a Bear River fumble on the ensuing kickoff.
Entering Friday night’s contest without senior running back David O’Brien and recently injured sophomore full back Austin Baze, there’s not too many who would have given Bear River a fighting chance to compete with Placer. Yet, despite the injuries the Bruins managed to put themselves in position to win and certainly gave the Hillmen all they could handle.
“We had a chance to win the game with five minutes to go and the fumble just, that was the game,” added Logue. “David (Mastrella) has been such a great player for us all year. It was probably the only mistake, well it wasn’t a mistake, (Placer’s) guy just jerked it out of there. It would’ve been nice to see if we could have drove down and taken that lead, but this one’s history. We’ll lick our wounds.”
Turnovers are never easy to overcome, especially late in the fourth quarter against a quality opponent. Games are seldom decided on a single play. Had the Bruins not fumbled they would have still needed to drive 68 yards. Placer also shot itself in the foot on the second play of the game when it missed a wide-open receiver that would have easily gone for a touchdown had the ball been on target.
Mastrella ended his night with eight carries for 60 yards and a score to go with three catches for 37 yards. Baggett added 18 yards on six attempts with a touchdown. Colton Wood stepped up as well, totaling 34 yards on seven carries. Voter passed 10-for-17 for 133 yards, with O’Lena hauling in four for 82 yards.
By the numbers
Placer outgained Bear River on the ground 271-98 and the Bruins won the battle through the air, 133-52. The Hillmen also dominated the clock, holding time of possession nearly double that of the Bruins.
“Give Bear River credit,” said Placer head coach Joey Montoya. “They’re a great football team. They were 7-0 for a reason and they’ve played a heck of a schedule this year. They did a great job in the second half keeping the ball away from us. We had a couple costly penalties and a couple of assignments we didn’t execute on timely downs so they put us in long situations and you have to give credit to Bear River for that.”
Placer’s Owen Scott led the team in scoring with a pair of touchdown runs. He finished the night with 19 carries for 91 yards and two scores. Jared Halbert racked up a game-high 144 yards rushing on 16 touches. Waylen Cozad tacked on 34 yards on eight carries and also scored for the Hillmen before exiting in the first half with a knee injury.
“We had a plan to come here and execute, win first downs and we did that,” said Scott, who scored the go-ahead touchdown to put Placer up 19-14 with under six minutes to play. “We fought hard all the way to the end. We just had to focus on ourselves and keep our mind right, ignore the noise. Offensive line was great. I love them all.”
Placer (8-0, 3-0 PVL) hosts Lincoln (5-3, 2-1 PVL) on Friday. Bear River will travel to Antelope to battle Center (4-4, 0-3 PVL) on Friday.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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