PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River wins tough road test over Escalon
Special to The Union
BRUINS 28, COUGARS 14
BR: Dave Mastrella 13-yard pass from Jason Voter (1:19) Britt Sawyer kick
E: Hunter Calton 37-yard run (:04) David Martinez kick
BR: Connor Hollister 30-yard pass from Voter (6:22) kick blocked
BR: David O’Brien 7-yard run (10:19) 2pt-conversion good
E: Sam Lattig 15-yard pass from Dylan Azevedo (6:16) Martinez kick
BR: O’Brien 59-yard run (3:28) Sawyer kick
It was the daddy of all daggers.
Battling a tough road environment and clinging to 21-14 lead with less than four minutes to play, Bear River had the ball at its own 41-yard line facing a pivotal 3rd-and-2 to try and put the Cougars on the ropes.
Senior running back David O’Brien delivered the knockout punch, splitting the defense behind a wall of blocks and going 59 yards for the score. The touchdown deflated the Cougar faithful as the Bruins hung on to gut-out a hard fought win, 28-14, Friday night.
“We got in the huddle there since we called timeout and I was like, ‘Line, this is the game right here. We get this first down we’re milking the clock, it’s ours,’” said O’Brien, who finished with 11 touches for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “I came through and I was just gone.”
Escalon would get the ball back but couldn’t put a drive together as Bear River locked down defensively and was able to end in victory formation.
“That was an epic, old fashioned Bear River slug out,” said Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie. “Great defense, physical offensive running. In the second half of the second quarter we found something to hang our hat on and carried it with us into halftime.”
Yardage was hard to come by on the ground for the Bruins, who tallied 134 yards on 30 carries, but senior quarterback Jason Voter settled in and was able to establish the offense and keep the Cougars on their heels.
“We were all banged up and knew we had to come out stronger,” said Voter, who threw 9-for-16 for 128 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. “I knew I had to have a better game. I’m really proud of everyone, especially our line. It’s one step closer home playoffs.”
Voter’s touchdown passes both came in the first half to help pick up the offense’s lack of ground production. The first was a sensational 13-yard grab by Dave Mastrella late in the first quarter on a crucial 3rd-and-9. The second was hauled in by Conner Hollister for 30 yards midway through the second quarter, which gave Bear River a 13-7 cushion at the break.
“Their No. 24 was the real deal, but we made a couple of halftime adjustments,” added Bruins co-head coach Terry Logue. “The play that got them we used in the second half was our power sweep that David scored twice on. That paid off big for us. This was a big, big test for us and we passed.”
Defensively Bear River wreaked havoc on the Cougars all night, forcing three turnovers as both Jake Potts and Kyle Wooner hauled in an interception, and Landon Clark recovered a fumble.
Gunnar Simpson, Hollister and Jimmy Vaughn wrapped up a combined 17 tackles, with Vaughn and Clark each adding a sack for a loss of six yards.
Escalon quarterback Dylan Azevedo was held to just 4-for-13 passing for 40 yards with a touchdown and two picks. Rushing, the Cougars struggled, racking up 143 yards on 34 carries with 11 of those going for zero or negative yardage.
Escalon’s Hunter Calton finished with 14 touches for 65 yards and Tim Costa added 85 yards on 12 carries, including a 37-yard score in the first quarter to knot the game 7-7.
The Bruins (4-0) conclude non-conference play next week with another stiff test when they host Sutter on Homecoming and Alumni Night.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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