PREP FOOTBALL: Placer wins tough PVL battle with Bear River (VIDEO)
Friday night was Senior Night at J. David Ramsey Stadium and BruiNation assembled for the final time in the regular season to watch as Bear River battled ferociously against Placer, leading early, but then falling short, 34-19.
It was the Hillmen’s ninth consecutive victory over the Bruins. Bear River (6-3, 1-3 Pioneer Valley League) must now beat Center this upcoming Friday to make the playoffs.
“Give (Placer) credit,” said Bruins co-head coach Terry Logue. “They held us on the 1-foot line, but I’m very proud we didn’t let them get that score they were trying to get at the end of the game. The effort is outstanding. Sudden death next week. Winner goes on.”
Trailing 34-19 with under 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Bear River’s last gasp came when it was stuffed on fourth-and-goal inside the 1-yard line. Placer took over on downs and eventually fumbled, committing its third turnover of the game, but time had run out on the Bruins.
“I feel we’re playing really good football now,” said Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie. “We’re just coming up a little short, but we’re playing good teams. Our kids are battling. To me this is the epitome of a Bruin football team. Tonight I felt like our kids gave us 48 minutes.”
Placer (8-1, 4-0 PVL) dominated the line of scrimmage most of the night, racking up 316 yards rushing on 55 attempts with four touchdowns. The Hillmen were led by Mario Perez, who tallied 192 yards on 24 touches and a score in the third quarter, which extended Placer’s lead to 27-16.
Yet, it was the Bruins making noise early, striking first to go up 7-0 on their opening drive with quarterback Luke Baggett finding Josh Zimmer, who made the grab on a screen route in the flat and cut up the sideline 22 yards for a touchdown. The short field was set up by an Austin Baze strip and Zimmer fumble recovery at the Bruins 40 yard line.
Placer answered right back to tie it, capping off an 11-play, 74-yard drive with a 2-yard plunge by Anthony Kerrigan, who finished the night with 12 carries for 37 yards and a pair of scores.
Bear River’s ensuing possession resulted in a punt, but Placer muffed the return and Travis Carpenter recovered for the Bruins.
On the next play from scrimmage the Hillmen were back on their heels, as the Bruins dialed up a trick play with Baggett on the receiving end of a 33-yard pass from Tre Maronic. The point after was blocked and Bear River led 13-7.
Placer responded with another long drive and overcame a fourth down to keep the chains moving before Marshall Chapman dove in, knotting the game 13-13. The point after was wide left. Chapman ended his night with 81 yards on 17 attempts and a score.
The see-saw battle continued with Alex Bohn reclaiming the lead for Bear River as he booted through a 31-yard field goal to put his squad back on top, 16-13.
It was short-lived though, as Placer sustained yet another long drive and scored when quarterback Michael Stuck connected with Chapman on an 8-yard pass to go up 20-16 with under a minute to play in the first half. It was the Hillmen’s first lead of the game and they stayed clear of the Bruins from there.
Stuck finished 8-of-10 passing for 145 yards with a touchdown.
Placer added to its lead in the third quarter with touchdowns from Perez and Kerrigan.
Bohn knocked through a 32-yard field goal to pull the Bruins back to within a score late in the third, 27-19, but the Hillmen kept firing back.
For the Bruins, Baggett led the offensive attack on a night where rushing was spotty at best. He completed 11-of-21 passes for 163 yards and a score. Calder Kunde hauled in five for 69 yards, followed by Maronic with three grabs for 43 yards and a touchdown pass to Baggett. Zimmer had two grabs for 24 yards and a score, and Dillon Scott had a catch for 23 yards.
Out of the backfield Zimmer led the team with seven carries for 37 yards. The team finished with just 79 yards on 23 attempts.
Defensively, Maronic wrapped up 11 tackles, followed by Sam Davis with nine, and Trae Nix and Carpenter each added seven and a half. Zimmer, Carpenter and Baze each had fumble recoveries.
Bear River will battle for their right to play in the postseason this upcoming Friday against Center (5-4, 2-2 PVL). The Cougars are coming off a 48-34 victory over Colfax.
JV: PLACER 35, BEAR RIVER 8
The Bruins junior varsity squad (2-6, 0-4 PVL) avoided the shutout late with a 35-yard hook up from Colton Jenkins to Jacob Ayestaran, and Zach Fink converted a two-point play, but Placer had its way in a 35-8 rout.
Erik LaCross nabbed an interception for the Bruins in the first half, however, the Hillmen took a 21-0 lead to the locker room.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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