Colfax conquers Bear River in OT thriller

Division V title is the fifth overall for the Falcons
By: Mike Ray
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GRASS VALLEY– For the Colfax Falcons football team, a season made for the history books just keeps getting better.

In a game not for the light-hearted, Colfax and Bear River, a pair of cross-river rivals that have been gnawing at each other for the past 32 years, decided that 48 minutes of regulation wasn’t enough to decide their CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship played before a full house Friday evening at Nevada Union’s Hooper Stadium.

In a game that had more highs and lows than the Beach Boardwalk roller coaster ride, Colfax used a 22-yard field goal from junior left-footer Dylan Garcia to start the second overtime as the difference in a scintillating 31-28 win over the upset-minded Bruins.

But, if you thought that Garcia’s pivotal boot was the final nail in Bear River’s coffin, forget it.

Colfax needed an end zone interception from Jake Green, his third of the evening, on a 4th-and-25 situation at the end of the second overtime to thwart Bear River’s final bid.

Green’s interception came one play after the Bruins had an apparent fourth-down, game-winning touchdown pass nullified on the previous play by an ineligible receiver downfield call. Bruins tight end Josiah Cregar, who caught the apparent touchdown pass, was covered by a wide receiver on the penalized play.

For Colfax, the section win was the fifth in school history as the Falcons join championship squads from 1986, 2001, 2002, and 2003. The win also avenged last season’s 30-27 loss to the Bruins in the D-V title tilt.

“The third time was the charm,” said Colfax coach Tony Martello about the Falcons being able to shake the Bruins off their backs in CIF section title games. “But what an incredible championship game. It’s the playoffs. I tip my hat to Bear River. They fought all the way.”

The game was far from being perfectly played as the Falcons and Bruins each turned the ball over three times, including twice inside each other’s 5-yard line.

Penalties were also crucial as Colfax was flagged for four first-half pass interference calls while Bear River had personnel issues getting whistled four times for having too many players on the huddle.

The Bruins started the game’s scoring on their first possession when Calder Kunde connected with Dylan Scott on a corner pattern from 25 yards out for a 6-0 lead at the 4:35 mark.

Colfax came right back and took a 7-6 lead as Alex Weir and Daniel Bliss hooked up on a screen pass that covered 24 yards.

In the second stanza, the Bruins put together a long drive to retake the lead. Aided by a pair of Colfax pass interference calls, Kunde found Tre Maronic from 31 yards out and then hit Cregar for the two-point conversion and a 14-7 lead on the first play of the second quarter.

Colfax answered with a nice drive that was sparked by a 44-yard pick-up on a Weir-to-Colton Reeves aerial that took the ball to the Bruins’ 2-yard line. Two plays later, Green out-leapt a Bear River defender in the corner of the end zone to retie the game at 14-up.

But the Colfax lead didn’t last long as Bear River responded with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that was capped when Hunter Daniels blasted over from a yard out. A Maronic-to-Kunde pass play for 26 yards and a 12-yard scamper by Kunde were the key plays in the match.

The count stayed 21-14 Bear River through most of the third quarter, but after Green ended a Bruins threat by intercepting Kunde in the end zone, Colfax then responded with a seven-play, 80-yard push.

Sparked by a 56-yard pass play from Weir to tight end Peter O’Brien, Colfax capped the march six plays later with Bliss going over from a yard away and a 21-21 tie.

As the fourth quarter started, the Falcons and Bruins then traded interceptions with Green grabbing a Bear River pass at the 20 and Weir being picked by Colton Jenkins, who returned the ball down to the Colfax 11.

However, the Bruins couldn’t capitalize as Parker Sullivan covered a Bruins fumble one play later at the Colfax 8.

The Falcons, with 6:14 on the clock left in regulation, then started to click offensively as Weir hit Reeves for pick-ups of 16 and 13 yards and another to O’Brien, going for 14.

But with Colfax trying to massage the clock down and score, the Falcons fumbled at the 2-yard line, Austin Slining recovering with just 1:47 left in regulation.

In the new California high school overtime rules, each team starts its possession at the 25-yard line.

Bear River’s first possession of the extra session ended with Daniels scoring on a 4-yard run for a 28-21 lead but Colfax, after a 23-yard pass from Weir to Green, tied the count when O’Brien hauled in a Weir pass from 4 yards away.

Colfax then went back on offense and after pushing to the 5-yard line, settled for Garcia’s 22-yard 3-pointer and a 31-28 lead and the eventual win.

Weir finished the game 20-of-28 through the air for 287 yards. His top receivers were Reeves, who grabbed seven passes for 112 yards and O’Brien, who had five catches for 98 yards. Bliss led Colfax’s rushers with 82 yards on 20 carries.

Bear River was led by Daniels, who gained 86 yards on 27 carries. Kunde was 5-of-12 through the air for 82 yards with Scott grabbing three passes for 52 yards.

Defensive standouts for Colfax included Dylan Owens, Christian Evensen, Zach Fejes, Tucker Klopotek, John Beckman and Jake LaHaie. Bear River’s top defenders were Jared Baze, Sam Davis, Trae Nix and Logan Jenkins.

Colfax’s 13-0 record ties the 2002 team for the school’s best record. The Falcons will now await their bid to the Northern California regional game, which will be announced Sunday. Bear River, 11-2, is also still alive for an at-large bid to the NorCals.