TWO-MINUTE THRILL: Bear River replays 10-play, 97-yard game-winning drive
Word spread quickly late last Friday night from Garden Valley, after Bear River had beaten host Golden Sierra 21-20, that the Bruins produced an amazing, 10-play, 97-yard drive with less than two minutes remaining to move to 3-0 on the season.
But that was only half the story, said Bruin co-head coach Scott Savoie.
“Everybody is talking about The Drive,” Savoie said. “But The Stop is just as big of a story. We stopped them on four downs inside their 10, starting at the 9-yard line. That’s what made the final drive even possible.”
True enough, while reviewing the game film, it was the stout defensive stand that breathed life back into Bear River’s hopes of remaining undefeated through three weeks.
On first-and-goal, the Bruin defensive line swallows up a trap play for no gain.
On second-and-goal, the Grizzlies go with a staple of their double-wing set, a power sweep to the right, but Bear River’s Chris Carcido cuts the runner down for a three-yard gain at the Bruin 6-yard line.
On third-and-goal, Golden Sierra goes with a pass play and a wide-open receiver emerges in the back of the end zone. But the pass goes off his fingertips incomplete, stopping the clock.
On fourth-and-goal, and apparently without a kicking game – Golden Sierra attempted two-point conversions on each of their touchdowns – the Grizzlies went with a fly sweep to the left side, but Bruin junior linebacker Jimmy Bamburg beat the back to the sideline, knocking him out of bounds at the Bear River 3-yard line to turn the ball over on downs.
With just more than two minutes remaining in the game, trailing 20-14 and 97 yards of real estate ahead of them, the Bruin offense took the field with its two-minute drill.
“You’ve just got to move the chains,” co-head coach Terry Logue said. “That’s No. 1, keep getting first downs. But we did have two timeouts, too, so that helped.”
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Trying to avoid trouble in their own end zone, the Bruins line up with maximum protection and send only one receiver – junior Justin Butler – on a route toward the left sideline. Butler finds open space against man coverage, but junior quarterback Dallen Heutter’s 22-yard spiral is just off Butler’s fingertips.
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The Bruins go with a draw play for Houston, but an untouched defender closes quickly and Heutter avoids disaster by keeping the ball and sprinting to the right side for a 3-yard gain. A Golden Sierra defender then does Bear River a favor by hitting Heutter out of bounds for a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down.
“If Dallen hands the ball off to Houston, that’s a fumble,” Savoie says.
“Or a safety,” Logue adds. “That’s a heck of a play.”
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Savoie calls again for max protection out of a shotgun set, looking to hit a receiver on a quick comeback route. But Heutter’s throw is short to the left and incomplete.
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Heutter hits Houston on the right side with a short screen pass, but the Bruins’ strong senior back busts the play open for a 14-yard gain after breaking three tackles.
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“We go max protect again,” Savoie says, using a laser pointer to indicate the blocking scheme. “But as you can see, we don’t get max protection.”
Heutter throws the ball away under heavy pressure.
“Another good decision, to just throw it away,” Logue says.
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Junior James Harris steps in at quarterback and hits junior wideout Harley Sauers on a quick pass to the left for what looks to be a 6-yard gain, but Sauers shakes the first defender, sprints down the left sideline and gets out of bounds after a 26-yard gain for another first down.
“He beats the corner and gets out of bounds,” says Savoie. “That was smart. He’s our junior who has stepped in for (Joey) Reina (who has been sidelined with an injured foot since catching the game-winning touchdown pass in week one against Cordova).”
“He went from being a backup to being a two-way starter in one fell swoop,” Logue adds.
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Liking what he saw on the previous play, Savoie calls it again, only switching sides. Harris and Sauers connect again for a seven-yard gain, but Golden Sierra jumps the route and keeps Sauers in bounds, causing the Bruins to call one of their two timeouts with 45 seconds remaining in the game.
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Coming out of the timeout with twin receivers to the left side, junior halfback Josh Toft takes a quick toss to the left side. Butler and Sauers both make key crack-back blocks on the outside to seal the end for Toft, who sprints for a 21-yard gain to the Grizzlies’ 5-yard line.
“But he doesn’t get out of bounds,” Savoie notes. “There’s 45 to 50 seconds to go and we’ve got one timeout left.”
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Without using a timeout, Savoie calls Toft’s number again and goes with a power sweep – similar to the Golden Sierra play the Bruins had just stuffed on the opposite end of the field – to the right side and No. 26 looks to have broken the plane of the end zone, but officials rule him down at the 1-yard line.
“I don’t know why they called him down,” Logue says, as Savoie notes that he then called his final timeout to stop the clock.
“We called two plays during the timeout, in case he doesn’t get in on the first one,” Savoie says.
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Houston makes sure there’s no need for the second play, taking the handoff on a “33 Lead” to the left side and easily scoring from one yard out, tying the score at 20-20.
“We go to the left with our two big seniors (Jason) Grady and (Brian) Kenyon leading the way,” Savoie says, rewinding the play and switching angles from sideline to end zone cameras for another look.
Junior kicker Jack Tortorici had not missed a single PAT in his first two varsity games, but he also had not faced such a pressure situation.
“I thought ‘Holy cow, I hope he doesn’t miss this one,'” Logue says.
“He nails it,” Savoie proclaims, switching back to the end zone camera to show the kick splits the uprights in half. “Right down the middle.”
Score: Bear River 21, Golden Sierra 20
With 30 seconds still on the clock, the Bruins kick off and stop the Grizzlies at their own 26-yard line. On first down, playing four-deep coverage, Harris intercepts Golden Sierra’s double-post pass route to all but end the game.
Whether it will be remembered most for “The Stop” or “The Drive,” the comeback could likely boost the confidence of a Bruin team that didn’t exactly play well on the road for the first time.
“We stole it,” Logue said, matter-of-factly. “We were fighting uphill the whole game.”
“It’s true, other than some real good individual games,” Savoie noted, “Carcido and (Alex) Rea on defense and Josh Toft had a breakout game, but other than that we didn’t play real well. But the one thing we can take away from this as a team is that we played real cruddy and we still found a way to get it done.”
Contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton via e-mail email@example.com or by phone at 477-4240.
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