Placer defense answers the call at Bear River
LAKE OF THE PINES – On a night filled with defensive highlights, Colton Davenport struck the final, decisive blow at Bear River High.
The Placer senior went high in the air to pick off a Bruin pass and seal a thrilling 10-6 win for the Hillmen on the opening night of Pioneer Valley League football.
Bear River’s defense lived up to its billing, keeping Placer’s explosive attack bottled up for much of the night. The Hillmen responded with an incredible defensive effort of their own and just enough offense to hand the Bruins (5-1) their first loss of the season.
“All the credit goes to coach (Eric) Rodarte and all the defensive coaches tonight,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said. “That was a great game. It’s a shame someone had to lose.”
Placer (5-1) managed to win despite three interceptions and the loss of starting quarterback Peter Denham. Bear River junior Cody Heard put a crushing hit on the QB in the second quarter. Denham left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return.
Following an interception by Isaac Brahce, Ulises Arellano booted a 27-yard field goal late in the first half to give the visitors the lead. The Hillmen used back-to-back big plays early in the third quarter to score the decisive touchdown. First Brad Spangler broke free for a 36-yard gain. Then Michael Robinson rumbled up the middle for a 30-yard touchdown to make it 10-0.
Spangler, who led Placer with 127 yards on 13 carries, said the Hillmen expected a serious challenge from Bear River’s defense.
“We were prepared. We knew it was going to be tough,” Spangler said. “Our offense doesn’t panic. We just keep the machine going. The run in the third quarter felt great. It was a momentum changer.”
The Bruins re-gained the momentum late in the third quarter. A fourth down stop near midfield set up a 60-yard scoring drive capped by Brandon Wooner’s 11-yard catch on a nice pass from James Harris.
Bear River’s final drive began at its own 15-yard line with 2 minutes, 22 seconds on the clock. Harris found Harley Sauers with a 30-yard pass and then had a big 21-yard run to take the ball inside Placer’s 35-yard line. But two plays later Davenport came to the Hillmen’s rescue.
“Great players step up and make great plays when it counts,” fellow senior Tanner Jay said of Davenport. “He played like a champion.”
Bear River 35, Placer 24 – The Bruins dominated the first half to take a 28-6 lead, then held off the Hillmen over the final 24 minutes.
Brad Botsford rushed for 119 yards and three first-half touchdowns, including a 62-yarder to open the game to lead Bear River (5-1).
Placer (2-4) got one rushing touchdown and one receiving TD from Austin LaBleu. Todd Valliere and Zach Phillips each ran for one TD.