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Bear River wins an emotional game against River Valley, 14-7

By: Matthew Bell, Journal Sports Correspondent
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YUBA CITY -- After the tragic death of teammate Justin Butler earlier this week, the Bear River football team and the Bear River community rallied together Friday night, overcoming tremendous heartache and adversity. The Bruins, in the game of a lifetime, beat a tough River Valley squad, 14-7. Playing with tremendous emotion, the Bruins started the game off poorly, allowing a 2 play, 75-yard scoring drive by the Falcons that put them down 7-0 after just 37 seconds. The Bruins fought back, however, and held a strong Falcon offense scoreless for the remainder of the game. The Bruins defense for the remaining 47 minutes was, in a word, merciless. They forced 3rd and 4th downs all night and showed tremendous tenacity and great tackling as the defensive line and defensive backs shut down a trick Falcon offense, which ran several reverses and relied on play action and fake handoffs for deception. Offensively, Sam Houston, Jimmy Bamburg, and Josh Toft pushed the ball on the ground for the Bruins, orchestrated by quarterback James Harris. Both Bamburg and Houston had touchdown runs, Houston the go-ahead score. Sean O'Brien and Chris Carcido added rushing yards as well. But this game wasn't about individual performances. It was about the team coming together as a whole, as a family. The game, as coach Scott Savoie said afterwards, was about family and "about heart." The proof? There were two drives by the Falcons after the go-ahead TD by Houston with 3:27 left in the fourth. The first ended with a leaping interception by Harley Sauers; the second ended with the game-ending sack by Sean O'Brien and Dillon Huffman, which shattered any River Valley hopes of staging some late-game heroics. The Bruins dedicated the game to Butler. JV – Bear River 14, River Valley 13 Foreshadowing the varsity's performance, the JV Bruins squad defeated the Falcons, led by a strong defense team performance. With just seconds remaining in the fourth, the Bruins shut down a 2-point conversion attempt to hold on and secure the victory. The game featured great performances from Andrew Reiss, a first year FB, and Michael Raigoza. After the tragic loss of Butler on Monday and difficult and emotional week, JV coach Chris Bean was extremely proud of his team. "After everything that's happened to them this week, I'm really proud," Bean said. "They came together and played for something bigger than themselves."