PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River takes down Liberty Ranch, remains unbeaten
Special to The Union
Playing on Friday the 13th and under a full moon, the Bear River Bruins football team looked supernatural at times en route to a dominating win over the Liberty Ranch Hawks.
Bear River’s tenacious defense set the tempo and wrapped up eight sacks while its offense piled up more than 400 total yards as the Bruins took down the Hawks with ease, 44-21, on Homecoming Night at J. David Ramsey Stadium.
“Improvise, adapt and overcome,” said Bear River senior nose guard Zach Fink, who led the Bruins’ charge defensively with eight tackles, four sacks and a fumble recovery. “It’s not going to work every time, but you just got to keep hitting. The (defense) did amazing. Coming out, we had a little bit of a scramble on that first kickoff and we were getting pushed back and then we came together and kept our morale up and just kept pounding. One way or another we came up on top and that’s what I love.”
The Bruins stiffest test came on the Hawks opening drive, as Bear River blocked a Liberty Ranch field goal attempt and nearly returned it for a touchdown only to have the play blown dead by an inadvertent whistle. However, on the next play the Hawks opted to go for the first down and junior Tyler Dzioba recovered a fumble, which set the stage for a 12-play, 88-yard touchdown drive with senior Tre Maronic breaking loose for a 31-yard score and a 7-0 lead.
Bear River then went on a tear in the second quarter, adding three more scores in a four minute span. Maronic burst through the secondary for a 32-yard score to make it 14-0. Jake Ayestaran then hauled in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Maronic after a Warren Davis fumble recovery. And later, a 1-yard plunge from Maronic with less than a minute to play in the half made it 28-0.
“The first half was awesome,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue. “Let a lot of kids play in the second half, but very pleased to be 4-0 right now with this young group and only six seniors on our team.”
Picking up right where they left off, Bruins senior Colton Jenkins turned on the jets and took the second half kickoff 80 yards down to the Hawks 13. Three plays later it was Ayestaran weaving his way in for a 10-yard score and a hearty 34-0 lead.
“Feels pretty dang good,” said Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie, after notching the victory. “I was worried about this one tonight. That’s an athletic team. They had some pieces… Inadvertent whistle, unfortunate. Referee felt terrible about it. But it’s one of those things. Really proud of the fact that our kids, they got an extra down there in the red zone and our kids stepped up and got that done. I think that set the tone for the whole night.”
Liberty Ranch would try to make things interesting with senior running back Isiah Ricci getting his team on the board midway through the third quarter, but two plays later Bear River fired back as Jenkins sprinted 62-yards to the end zone to make it 41-7.
“I think the difference for us this week is we had big plays,” said Maronic, who finished with three rushing touchdowns and also threw for one, racking up 115 yards on 15 rushes and completing 3-of-6 passes for 85 yards. “We had some big touchdown runs, Colton’s kickoff return, the field goal (block) that unfortunately got called back, Jacob Ayestaran had two touchdowns, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown that was for a good distance too.”
Rounding out the offensive attack for Bear River was Jenkins, who ended with four carries for 78 yards with a touchdown and a reception for 40 yards. Sophomore Ryder Kiggins kept the chains moving as well, tallying 60 yards on nine touches. Ayestaran added 61 yards on four attempts and also hauled in the 27-yard touchdown pass.
Bear River’s Jaime Vargas tacked on a 19-yard field goal with just under 5 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Ricci added one last jab for the Hawks with a touchdown pass before Bear River ran out the clock.
In addition to Fink’s strong defensive effort, the Bruins also got strong play from junior linebacker Gavin Jackson, who finished with four tackles, two sacks, a fumble caused and a big interception in the fourth quarter to halt a Hawks drive in Bruin territory. Warren Davis tallied three tackles, one and a half sacks, a deflected pass and secured a fumble. Ayestaran finished with seven tackles and a fumble recovery and Logan Siller wrapped up eight tackles.
Liberty Ranch collectively rushed for 138 yards on 38 attempts and two scores, and Ricci completed 13-of-23 for 134 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“We wont be back here (J. David Ramsey Field) until the end of October, so it’s nice to get this one under our belts,” said Savoie.
Bear River (4-0) wraps up its non-conference schedule on the road next Saturday at Encina Prep, which is followed by the team’s bye week and then three consecutive road games to open Pioneer Valley League play.
JV: LIBERTY RANCH 21, BEAR RIVER 7
The junior varsity Bruins (3-1) suffered their first loss of the year Friday night.
Geno Lorenzo got the Bruins going early with a QB sneak for a 7-0 lead. Liberty Ranch pulled even to make it 7-7 at the half. Missed opportunities in the red zone cost Bear River dearly as the Hawks would add two more scores and kept the Bruins at bay down the stretch.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
SCORE BY QUARTER
BRUINS 44, HAWKS 21
BR: Tre Maronic 31-yard run (Jaime Vargas kick) 4:09
BR: Maronic 32-yard run (Cade Torgerson kick) 4:47
BR: Jake Ayestaran 27-yard pass from Maronic (Vargas kick) 4:22
BR: Maronic 1-yard run (Torgerson kick) :48
BR: Ayestaran 10-yard run (PAT no good) 11:03
LR: Isiah Ricci 1-yard run (Damion Ochoa kick) 7:30
BR: Colton Jenkins 62-yard run (Torgerson kick) 6:39
LR: Ricci 10-yard run (Ochoa kick) 11:53
BR: Vargas 19-yard field goal 4:57
LR: Gabriel Simoes-Ojeda 21-yard pass from Ricci (Ochoa kick) 2:41
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