SECTION CHAMPS: Bear River edges Colfax, 30-27, to win D-V title (VIDEO)
Special to The Union
BRUINS 30 FALCONS 27
BR: Tre Maronic 39-yard pass from Luke Baggett (Alex Bohn kick) 8:17
BR: Calder Kunde 93-yard run (PAT no good) 5:20
C: Mason Ahrens 5-yard pass from Ryland Heimann (Alex Weir kick) :08
BR: Bohn 26-yard field goal 7:58
C: Ahrens 3-yard run (Weir kick) 4:19
BR: Baggett 1-yard run (Bohn kick) 1:48
C: Colton Reeves 4-yard pass from Heimann (Weir kick) :54
BR: Austin Baze 2-yard run (Bohn kick) 5:25
C: Jake Green 15-yard pass from Heimann (PAT no good) 3:28
ELK GROVE — In a championship game featuring Bear River’s stingy, smash mouth defense taking on Colfax’s high-octane offense, it was the Bruins setting the tempo, leading the entire way and earning a 30-27 victory over the Falcons at Cosumnes Oaks High School Saturday.
For the Bruins, it’s their second Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V title in the last four seasons.
“We’re all just a bunch of hillbilly kids who play their asses off,” said Bruins co-head coach Terry Logue, who collected his third Section title of his storied career. “(Colfax coach) Tony Martello is one of the best offensive minds in the Section, but today was our day. We did it. We stuck together, we hung together, made the plays when we had to and we’re walking out of here champions.”
Leading 30-27 with 2:38 to play and Colfax out of timeouts, Bear River faced a fourth-and-1 from its own 44 and elected to go for it. Senior quarterback Luke Baggett took the snap and handed the ball to senior fullback Austin Baze, who put his head down and powered ahead for a 3-yard gain to clinch it.
In a game where so much emphasis had been placed on No. 6 Bear River needing to slow down No. 5 Colfax, it was the Falcons who didn’t have any answers for the Bruins in the trenches. As a team, Bear River rushed for 323 yards on 56 carries with three touchdowns.
“Offensive lineman just blocking,” said Baze, who collected his second title ring after rushing 15 times for 62 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown to put his team ahead 30-21 with 5:25 to play. “Last time we weren’t used to how their defense was. But, this week we knew what to expect and knew what they were going to do, and just pounded them on offense. Just ran up the middle 3-4 yards when we needed it.”
Savoring the moment, maybe more so than the rest, was Baggett.
“We’re Section champions and I’m so proud of my brothers,” said Baggett, who finished 7-of-12 passing for 112 yards with two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). “It feels amazing. I’m so happy to beat Colfax. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I haven’t beat them at football ever since I’ve been at Bear River and to beat them on the biggest stage feels so great.”
The Bruins defense had the Falcons flustered early, forcing a quick three and out, and giving its offense possession at their own 42. Five plays later Baggett hooked up with Tre Maronic on a quick out route and Maronic sliced up field 39 yards for a touchdown to give the Bruins a 7-0 lead.
Colfax would try to answer right back, beginning a drive from its own 29 and working down to the Bruins 6, but the Bear River defense stuffed Colfax’s Mason Ahrens on fourth-and-2 to take over on downs.
Just two plays later, from their own 7-yard line, the Bruins executed a reverse from Baggett to Maronic to Calder Kunde, who raced around the right edge with Baggett leading the way and throwing a huge block as Kunde scampered ahead and tight roped the sideline on his way to a 93-yard score. The point after attempt was blocked and Bear River held a 13-0 advantage.
“You know in our first game we weren’t able to run the ball consistently against them,” said Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie. “I think they ended up with like 70-plus offensive plays in that game and we had like 42. So we came in feeling like we had to run the ball. I think Tre (Maronic) was a big, big part of that.”
Kunde finished the game with six touches for 120 yards and a touchdown, followed by Maronic who finished with 95 yards on 13 attempts.
In the passing game, Bear River’s Dillon Scott hauled in four passes for 28 yards, Maronic had one grab for 39 yards and a score, Garrett Pratt caught one for 32 yards and Zimmer pulled one down for 20 yards.
The Falcons didn’t go quietly however, as their offense was able to get on track and was aided by some Bruins penalties. Colfax’s Ryland Heimann would find Ahrens on a play action pass for a 5-yard score at the end of the first quarter, which made it 13-7.
“Our goal was to stop the run and the pass at the same time,” said Kunde. “We had man, zone, everything combined into one kind of. Luke (Baggett) was a big factor on top. Just playing as a team. I feel like on defense its always been our strong point this year.”
Bear River responded on its ensuing drive with sophomore kicker Alex Bohn booting through a 26-yard field goal to give the Bruins a 16-7 lead.
Yet, the Falcons refused to go away, putting together an 11-play, 62-yard drive aided by another Bruins penalty on fourth down, and ending with Ahrens darting in for a 3-yard score to make it 16-14.
Ahrens ended his afternoon with 26 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown, after averaging more than 230 yards per game in his two previous playoff games.
Field position was won on the kickoff throughout much of the game, with both teams opting to pooch shorter kicks and diminish the threat of big returns. The Bruins began their next drive from their 48 and Baggett punched in a 1-yard score six plays later to push the lead to nine points at 23-14 with just under two minutes in the first half.
Not to be outdone, Colfax took possession at its own 47 and scored eight plays later with Heimann connecting with Colton Reeves from four yards out, to make it 23-21, which is where it stood at the half.
Coming into the second half it appeared both teams had figured each other’s offense out as neither found the end zone in the third quarter, setting up a dramatic finish.
After a 36-yard field goal sailed wide left for the Falcons, Bear River took over at its 20 and began a 15-play 80-yard drive with Baze adding the exclamation point with a 2-yard touchdown plunge.
Colfax would answer one last time with Heimann dialing up a 15-yard touchdown to Jake Green, but Bear River’s Tre Nix recovered the onside kick and the Bruins offensive line surged ahead giving Baze the last yard to move the chains and ice the game.
“We just felt like, let’s try and win the game, not lose it,” added Logue about the decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 in the waning moments. “If they stopped us and scored I’m sure we’d been hung by rope, tarred and feathered, but we just felt we could make half a yard with Austin Baze and we did.”
Heimann wrapped up his senior campaign passing 17-of-28 for 199 yards with three touchdowns in a game where his offense failed to surpass 30 points for the first time this season.
Bear River’s Travis Carpenter led the way on defense bringing the hammer down with 10 tackles, followed by Baggett with eight and a half. Josh Zimmer tallied eight tackles and Baze added five. Maronic also secured a fumble recovery in the win.
Next up for the Bruins (10-3) is a CIF NorCal Bowl Game, their first in the school’s history.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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