Placer defense shuts down Bear River in 14-7 win

Unbeaten Hillmen hand Bruins their first loss
By: Matthew Kimel / Journal sports editor
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Bear River struck first. The Hillmen defense made sure the Bruins didn’t strike again. Placer forced seven punts and four turnovers, Todd Valliere and Michael Robinson rushed for touchdowns, and the Hillmen overcame an early pick-six to beat previously unbeaten Pioneer Valley League rival Bear River 14-7 at LeFebvre Stadium Friday in a defensive battle that featured no scoring in the final three quarters. Bear River (6-1, 1-1 PVL) had chances to tie it up early and late. The Bruins’ final opportunity came up short when they turned the ball over on downs with an incomplete pass from quarterback Dillon Smith on fourth-and-goal at the Placer 20-yard line. “Tonight, the defense was 100 percent the reason we won,” said coach Joey Montoya, whose Hillmen improved to 7-0, 2-0. Bear River jumped out to a 7-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game when Hunter Cramer took a Peter Denham pass to the house. “It was a big confidence boost for us,” said Bruins wide receiver-defensive back Teyvn Kimble, who had five catches for 76 yards. The Hillmen, who averaged 52 points a game heading into the contest, put up 14 in the first quarter and were held to goose eggs the rest of the way. Bear River used eight- and nine-man boxes to contain the Hillmen. And they brought a ton of pressure when Denham dropped back to pass, getting sacks from Cody Heard and J’Sean Harwood. But Placer still had two 100-yard rushers in Isaac Brahce and Robinson and the Hillmen were able to run the clock out by picking up key first downs in the waning minutes. After the Bruins cashed in on the opening play of the game, they failed to take advantage of several other uncharacteristic Hillmen mistakes. “We forced fumbles, we forced turnovers, but we didn’t capitalize,” Kimble said. Jalen Lewis came up with another clutch interception for Placer. After coming through with a pick late against Yuba City to preserve a win, Lewis grabbed one in his own end zone in the first half. “We had a good game plan on defense,” Lewis said. “We knew we had to hunker down after going down 7-0. We played shutdown defense. We didn’t give them anything. We didn’t break at the goal line several times.” Brad Botsford (four carries, 28 yards) was the leading rusher for the Bruins, who were never really able to generate much of a ground game. The Hillmen allowed just 167 yards. “They have a stellar defense,” Kimble said. “The best defense we’ve played. We made some good plays — they played better.” Reach Matthew Kimel at Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel