PREP FOOTBALL: Placer scores two late touchdowns to top Bear River (VIDEO)
Special to The Union
Hillmen 26, Bruins 14
P: Owen Scott 3-yard run (2:39) Andrea Prieto kick
P: Waylen Cozad 4-yard run (5:46) PAT no good
BR: Beau Baggett 1-yard run (3:21) Ben O’Lena kick
BR: Dave Mastrella 5-yard run (:30) O’Lena kick
P: Scott 1-yard run (5:42) 2pt try no good
P: Derek Haney 11-yard run (3:20)
Fourth quarter magic. That’s what the Bruins lacked Friday night at J. David Ramsey Field as the Hillmen stole back the fire, the lead and the show for a 26-14 victory.
The game lived up the the hype with a packed house and a game decided late in the fourth quarter. The Bruins overcame a 13-0 deficit to go up 14-13, only to have a costly fumble turn the tide as the Hillmen then scored 13 unanswered points in just over a two minute span in the fourth quarter.
“Super proud of our team,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue. “We sold out, came from 13 points down to take the lead in the fourth quarter. They got a touchdown. We stopped their two-point play, thought we were in great shape, chance at winning the game and just had a bad break, fumbled on the kickoff and they took advantage of it.”
Only one team could improve to 8-0 and now Bear River, which suffered its first loss nearly a year ago to the date, must move forward and fight to finish the season strong.
Placer’s Owen Scott got the Hillmen on the board first with a 3-yard run on third-and-goal late in the first quarter. Scott would later add the eventual go-ahead touchdown in the fourth. He finished the night with 19 carries for 91 yards and two scores.
Rounding out the offensive attack for Placer was Jared Halbert, who piled up 144 yards rushing on 16 touches. Waylen Cozad tacked on 34 yards on eight carries and also scored for the Hillmen before exiting in the first half with a knee injury. In all, Placer rushed 52 times for 271 yards and four touchdowns.
Dave Mastrella gave the Bruins their first lead, 14-13, with a speedy 5-yard run around the edge late in the third quarter. Beau Baggett plowed in for the Bruins’ first score late in second quarter, which trimmed Placer’s lead to 13-7 heading into the locker room.
Mastrella ended his night with eight carries for 60 yards and a score to go with three catches for 37 yards. Baggett added 18 yards on six attempts with a touchdown. Colton Wood stepped up as well, totaling 34 yards on seven carries. Jason Voter matured with his presence in the pocket, passing 10-for-17 for 133 yards, which included a few big connections with Ben O’Lena, who hauled in four catches for 82 yards.
“Obviously heartbroken right now,” added Bruins’ co-head coach Scott Savoie. “Heartbroken for our kids. They put a lot into this. I’m so proud of them. Stepped up big time. We’ve overcome a lot of hurdles this year. We just about pulled one off here.”
After Bear River completed its 49-yard scoring drive to take the lead the intensity level turned up a notch. Fueled by determination and an overwhelming energy filling the stadium, Placer responded with an impressive 15-play, 83-yard scoring drive to go back on top 19-14 with under six minutes to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, Mastrella took the ball up the sideline and juked a defender, cutback and broke a tackle, spinning out of another before breaking loose across the field where he had one man to beat. A collision with a stiff arm and the ball squirted loose. The Hillmen recovered.
“Our kids are battle-tested,” said Placer head coach Joey Montoya, whose team scored the games’ final 13 points in just over a two minute span. “We’ve been in some big games this year and we never panicked. When it came down to it our kids made plays.”
Running the ball got the job done for the Hillmen and cashing in on the games only turnover never hurts either. However, Placer quarterback Marcus Ante was never able to get comfortable, passing just 4-for-11 for 52 yards and found himself eating turf on multiple occasions.
Defensively for the Bruins the team was led by Beau Baggett with 16 tackles. He was followed by Mastrella and Gunnar Simpson, who each added eight. Simpson, Jimmy Vaughn and Landon Clark wrapped up five sacks combined.
Bear River (7-1, 2-1 PVL) will look to bounce back next week in another crucial PVL match-up against Center.
JV: Placer 25, Bear River 22
It was a see-saw battle with four lead changes in the second half, but the Hillmen punched in a 4-yard score with under a minute to play and then nabbed a late interception to seal it. The Bruins’ Clay Corippo hooked up with Stephen Taylor and Kaden Ahlberg for a pair of 40-plus-yard touchdowns to regain the lead before Placer’s game-winning drive. Placer moves to 6-2, 4-0 PVL and Bear River drops to 3-5, 1-2 PVL.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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The Nevada Union Junior Miners Football and Cheer teams traveled on Saturday to Casa Roble High School in Orangevale to play the Casa Roble Junior Rams in Sacramento Youth Football League action.