PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River wins ugly, flag-filled game
Special to The Union
BRUINS 20, MUSTANGS 7
BR: David O’Brien 21-yard run (9:31) Ben O’ Lena kick
BR: O’Brien 10-yard run (10:55) O’Lena kick
F: Vernon Robertson 12-yard run (7:09) Jose Gutierrez kick
BR: Austin Baze 11-yard run (2:27) PAT no good
Did someone spill mustard on the field? No, it’s just another flag.
Whistles and penalties were in abundance Friday night at Negri Field in Sacramento as Bear River took care of Foothill 20-7 in an ugly Pioneer Valley League opener.
The Bruins’ got the job done, improving to 6-0 on the season as their defense dominated the Mustangs in what turned out to be a flag-frenzy with the Bruins racking up a whopping 143 yards on 17 penalties, which outgained the Mustangs’ total offense of just 132 yards.
“It was just one of those games where the penalties interrupted everything and we couldn’t get any continuity,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue, whose team had a few potential scoring drives squandered by controversial calls. “Fortunately, we shut them out the entire second half. No matter how much you talk to kids about underestimating your opponent I think our kids came in here a little overconfident and (Foothill) played with a lot of intensity.”
The Bruins exploded out of the gate, taking advantage of a bad snap on a Foothill punt, which set them up in prime field position on their first possession. Senior David O’Brien burst through the Mustang defense for a 21-yard touchdown and would later add another from 10 yards in the second quarter to push the Bear River lead to 14-0.
“(Foothill) came out more fired up and ready to play than we were,” said O’Brien, who ended the night with 13 carries for 98 yards and two touchdowns. “We just had a huge win over a great Sutter team and kind of took them for granted. Beside the penalties, our line was driving them back.”
The ground game was definitely working for the Bear River. Sophomore Austin Baze rumbled in from 11 yards out for the Bruins’ third and final score late in the first half to extend the lead to 20-7 where it remained until the end. Baze finished with 12 touches for 83 yards and a score. Senior Dave Mastrella rounded out the attack out of the backfield, blasting his way for 74 yards on only eight carries. Quarterback Jason Voter had an off-night, tossing 4-for-10 for 70 yards and an interception.
“It’s one of those things, we have 11 bodies out there and they all have to be working in unison and a lot of times we weren’t,” added Bruins’ co-head coach Scott Savoie. “We miss-fired a little bit, had some penalties, but we survived it.”
As bad as the penalties were, it was still Bear River’s stingy defense that dictated the game, not surrendering any big plays and sending Foothill backwards most the night. Mustangs’ quarterback Vernon Robertson ran into the end zone from 12 yards out scoring the team’s only touchdown midway through the second quarter to pull his team within a score, 14-7, but that’s as close as it would get.
Robertson finished throwing 9-for-18 for 123 yards. As a team, Foothill rushed 36 times for just nine yards, which included 19 runs that netted zero or negative yardage. Up until Friday night, the Mustangs had been averaging 35 points per game.
There was plenty of pressure exerted by the Bruin defense, including getting after Robertson, whose athleticism was tough to contain at times.
“Just the motivation, trying to do every single play to the end,” explained senior Gunnar Simpson, who wrapped up three sacks for a combined loss of 22 yards. “It felt really good. I’ve been waiting for (sacks) for awhile and I was hoping to get a couple more.”
Also leading the defense for the Bruins was newly eligible senior Beau Baggett, who wrapped up nine tackles. He was followed by Landon Clark, who added a sack of his own to go with three tackles. Colton Wood also secured a fumble recovery for Bear River in a scoreless second half.
The Bruins (6-0) will enjoy a week off from classes for October Break and are back home Friday to host rival Colfax.
JV: Bear River 14, Foothill 12
It came down to the wire as Bruins’ Luke Baggett snatched an interception and walked into the end zone for a 1-yard score to put Bear River on top with three minutes to play. It was sweet redemption for Bear River (3-3, 1-0 PVL), which had fumbled away the ball on the previous play. Bear River’s defense stood tall, stuffing the Mustangs on their final drive at the Bruins’ 25 yard line and took over on downs before kneeling to a victory. Josh Zimmer plowed in for the Bruins first half score.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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