PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River rallies late, edges Foothill
SACRAMENTO — Bear River extended its win streak to eight consecutive over Foothill Friday night with a gutsy, come-from-behind performance that came down to the wire, pulling out all the stops for a 14-13 win.
Trailing 13-7 at halftime, the Bruins turned the game around in the second half with big defensive stands, bulldozing runs by Austin Baze and a clutch interception by Luke Baggett.
“I’m a little disappointed,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue. “We were a little loosey-goosey all day at our walk through and the bus ride. And, I was worried we weren’t mentally ready and we made some mistakes. I give Foothill a lot of credit. Foothill played a great game. They blocked really well, they ran hard, but when it counted we gutted up. We got it done. Really proud of our kids. We officially have a winning season.”
Baze, the Bruins senior fullback, blasted in for a 1-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter and kicker Alex Bohn added the point after to put the Bruins back out front for the first time since leading 7-0 early in the first. The 22-yard drive was set up by a ferocious Bear River defense, which had pushed the Mustangs backwards and then forced a poor punt.
Foothill later countered with a long drive that began at its own 5-yard line, thanks to a 62-yard pooch by Bohn. However, the Mustangs hopes were dashed at the Bruins’ 36 on fourth-and-7 when Baggett read the Mustangs’ route like a book, nabbing a pivotal interception with less than two minutes to play.
“That’s just a play we’ve been practicing since day one,” said Baggett, who also plays quarterback and finished the game 4-of-8 passing for 39 yards to go with his timely interception. “Just an out and slant. I was just lucky enough to make a play on it and get in there and pick it off. Great job, team effort. That win goes to the team.”
Needing a first down to ice the game the Bruins faced third-and-10 from their own 30-yard line after the Mustangs held strong and used up their final timeouts. Baze took the hand off and carried a whole herd of Mustangs with him, banging his way for 25 yards to seal the victory.
“We came in, felt like we thought we were going to go out and just win, and destroy,” said Baze, who finished the night with 12 touches for 75 yards and two touchdowns. “It’s just that point where you think you’re all that and you let a good team you should beat come back and get you.”
Filling the big shoes of injured senior Stephen Taylor was running back Josh Zimmer, who had 48 yards on eight attempts. Tre Maronic added 32 yards on five touches and Calder Kunde contributed 23 yards on three carries.
The victory moves the Bruins to 6-1 overall and 1-1 in Pioneer Valley League play with still three games remaining. The team now needs just one more win to qualify for the postseason.
“We need another win to at least get to that 7-3 position,” explained Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie. “Got three games to do it in. The next win gets us into the playoffs. We’re gunning for them.”
Leading the Bruins defense was Travis Carpenter with 10 tackles, followed by Garrett Pratt with eight and a fumble recovery. Baze had seven tackles, including a sack. Baggett added five tackles and an interception. Kaden Ahlberg had a pair of sacks and Sam Davis also tallied a sack.
Jumping out front early, Bear River marched 58 yards on its opening drive to score on a 6-yard plow up the middle by Baze. The team appeared to be well in control on offense, but quickly lost steam thereafter and fumbled twice in Mustang territory before rallying late when it mattered most.
Mustangs quarterback Carlos Merced struggled to find any type of rhythm against a stingy Bruins defense, passing 9-of-17 for 84 yards with an interception. He was also sacked four times for a combined loss of 31 yards.
Foothill’s ground attack fared slightly better, led by William Goebell, who had 24 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown. Goebell also hooked up with receiver Traivion Drummer for a 57-yard touchdown completion on what appeared to be a broken play, which knotted the game 7-7 in the second quarter.
Bear River returns home next week to host rival Colfax (5-2, 0-2 PVL).
JV: FOOTHILL 20, BEAR RIVER 7
The junior varsity Bruins (2-4, 0-2 PVL) fell behind 14-0 and fought back to pull within a score, but the Mustangs proved too tough to tame, earning a 20-7 victory.
Bruins’ quarterback Colton Jenkins tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Joe Knowlton for the team’s only score.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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Grass Valley native Brad Sweet drove past the competition and into victory lane last week, snapping his longest winless streak of the season.