SPORTS - "A patriotic homecoming display for Bear River football"

BEAR RIVER HIGH – By Gene Wilcox – September 14, 2020

Bear River High School’s 2020 homecoming football game lived up to the hype with Bear River and Ridgeline High School trading punches like two heavyweight prize fighters. When the bell sounded, the Bears were literally inches short of scoring on a controversial last play of the game on Friday, Sept. 11, at Bear River High.

The Bears will now take their show to Logan High School, on Friday, Sept. 18, where they will tangle with the Grizzlies (who beat Mountain Crest High School last week, 35-6).

Friday night’s festivities started with a show as players from both Ridgeline and Bear River carried American flags onto the field while country-western band, Rough Stock, played patriotic music. The whole opening was a tribute and remembrance of 9/11.

The football game against Ridgeline couldn’t have started much better for the Bear River Gridders. The defense put a three and out on the potent Riverhawk offense. Ridgeline pinned the Bears on the three-yard line on the punt. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Bear River’s Kace “Bucket” Jones took the hand-off from quarterback Josh Payne and sprinted 82-yards off tackle for a touchdown. With newly eligible kicker Izzy Windmiller in for the P.A.T, the kick was true.

Bear River’s defense proved up to the challenge again. Justice Holmgren sliced into the backfield from his defensive tackle position, dropping the running back for a five-yard loss.

The Riverhawks were forced to punt from their own endzone. On the third play from scrimmage, Payne found tailback Chance Udy behind the line of scrimmage. Payne threw a perfect pass and Udy reeled it in for a 35-yard touchdown. The P.A.T. was again true, and the Bears were up 14-0.

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Bear River's Chance Udy and Alec Callister, Sept. 11, 2020 - Photo by Andy Marchant

Ridgeline’s offense finally woke up by scoring on four consecutive series. Riverhawks’ Kaden Cox proved adept, finding open receivers, and going down the field to put up a touchdown at the end of the first quarter. Ridgeline drove again but settled for a 28-yard field goal. They tacked on two more touchdowns through the air to bring the halftime score to 24-14 in favor of the Riverhawks.

The second half started with Udy adding to his big game. With the Ridgeline defense keying on Jones, Udy took a hand-off and sprinted 67-yards for a Bear River touchdown. The P.A.T. was unsuccessful but the Bears had narrowed the gap to 24-20 with a quarter and a half left to play.

The third quarter ended with Bear River giving up a touchdown through the air. Ridgeline put up their last points of the game on a 42-yard field goal, with 7:26 left in the game, and a seemingly insurmountable 34-20 lead. Not to be outdone, Bear River quarterback Payne immediately lead the Bears to a quick score with a 19-yard touchdown pass to senior Darian Johnson. The P.A.T. was true, and with 3:49 left in the game, the Bears were within a touchdown.

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Needing a stop, the Bear River defense was up to the challenge. After initially conceding a first down, the Bear defense got nasty, forcing a punt, when Johnson made a stop for a loss.

With 1:31 left in the game, the Bears took over after a short punt. Justice Dworshak’s catch, followed by Gabe Dwaileebe’s catch, put the Bears in Riverhawk territory. Payne found Jones for another first down throw and catch and spiked the ball to stop the clock. Ryker Jeppsen caught a pass, and with a face-mask penalty gave the Bears the ball at the 25-yard line with the first down.

Another short pass to Jones, and a spike, gave the Bears one last play with four seconds left. On the last play of the game, Payne dropped back and threw a perfect pass to junior Garrison Marble at the goal line. Marble caught the ball, and turned, and looked to stretch his arms over the goal line, as he was tackled over the pylon. The officials huddled together to determine the outcome and called the game, giving Ridgeline a 34-27 victory.

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Bear River's Kace Jones, Sept. 11, 2020 - Photo by Andy Marchant

Even with such a heartbreaking way to end homecoming, the game was another classic against another very tough team. The one question that remains is “if Bear River scores, does long-time Bear coach Chris Wise go for the tie in overtime?” Or does he try and win the game with a two-point conversion?

Looking ahead to the Logan High game next week, the Bears must become road warriors. Traveling to Logan to take on a good Grizzly team will be difficult. Logan is coming off a 35-6 beatdown of Mountain Crest and look to keep their region record unblemished. The Bears will need to put a great effort together moving forward to give themselves a chance in the region standings.

Photos by Andy Marchant Photography

https://andymarchantphotography.pixieset.com/