BEAR RIVER HIGH - By Tate Atkin, Headliner Sports Editor, September 6, 2022
Less than one week after the Box Elder County Fair and Golden Spike Rodeo that brought two local communities together, they were once again divided as the Bear River High Bears and the Box Elder High Bees met on the football field in their annul Battle for the Golden Spike.
It was the 100th consecutive regular season meeting between the Bears and the Bees, the oldest continuous rivalry in the state. It was the 102nd overall meeting between the cross-county rivals including the two playoff games.
Bear River received the opening kickoff and sent out the offense to get things started for the Bears. It was a difficult start as they failed to move the ball forward and after giving up two sacks, the Bears were forced to punt. It was a high, short kick, and the Bees started their drive on the Bear River 45-yard line.
Box Elder mixed in run plays, and unconventional for the Bees, included a couple of pass plays as they marched close to the end zone. From 3-yards out, Box Elder High junior running back Dax Sumko found the end zone around the left side of the Bees offensive line as he walked in untouched. Box Elder used some trickery as they successfully converted a 2-point conversion using an option pass to extend their early lead to 8-0.
After a short kickoff, Bear River started with good field position. After two quick and short runs and an incomplete pass on 3rd and three, they again punted to the Bees as their offense continued to struggled the move the ball against the Box Elder defense.
Box Elder's offense moved backward after starting on their own 33-yard line. A false start penalty and then a fumble, recovered by the Bees was followed up with an unsportsmanlike penalty on Box Elder, backing them up to their own 10-yard line. On 3rd and 33, the Bees run up the middle to gain back half the yards but ultimately were forced to punt.
The first quarter ended, and the second quarter began with Bear River and Box Elder trading punts back and forth as both teams sputtered on offense not able to put together a drive that lasted more than a handful of plays.
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On the drive where the Bears were able to finally get a first down, their first of the game, Bear's quarterback senior Ryker Jeppsen threw an interception on fourth down at the three-yard line, which ended up being better than a punt. The Bees offense took the field pinned against their own end zone. After a couple of failed plays, on third down the Bees backfield was destroyed by Bear River defensive lineman junior Xander Lish as he forced a fumble and recovered it in the end zone for the Bear River touchdown. The Bears tried to match with a two-point conversion of their own but failed the attempt, leaving the score 8-6 for Box Elder.
Bear River kept the defensive momentum on the next drive going with another defensive stand ending the Bees drive with an interception by junior Talon Marble who returned the interception to the Box Elder 27-yard line. The Bears' offense was unable to capitalize and the drive ended quickly giving the ball back to the Bees.
On the final drive before halftime with receptions from Box Elder receiver Braylon Majors and big runs from Sumko, the Bees' offense found their groove and easily moved the ball against the otherwise very stout Bears defense. Box Elder finished the drive with a touchdown from quarterback Ryan Griffin to senior Tallin Chappell extending their lead to 15-6 going into halftime.
Box Elder came out after halftime poised to add to their lead. With big runs from Sumko and senior Easton White, the Bees easily moved the ball on the ground before the Bear's defense answered with a big stop on fourth down to end the Bees chance to add to their lead.
The rest of the third quarter was a struggle for both offenses as both teams again traded defensive punches and forced punts back and forth. The highlight for the Bear's defense was a sack by junior Aiden Wilson.
"I thought we could have made life a lot easier on offense if we would have been more comfortable and took what was there. We were pressing too much. I thought the pass rush rattled us a bit," said Bear River High's head football coach Trampis Waite on the offensive struggles.
The fourth quarter started with big runs by Sumko and the Bees, marching all the way to the 1-yard line before they scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Griffin. With the successful extra point, the Bees led 22-6 with eight minutes left in the game.
After an unsuccessful onside kick attempt, the Bears had great field position starting at their own 46-yard line. After losing yards with the run game and a sack by the Box Elder defense, Bear River lined up the punt. The punt was blocked and the Bees had outstanding field position starting at the Bear's 20-yard line. Box Elder was able to punch it in for another touchdown from Sumko, this time up the middle adding to their lead, 29-6. The Bear River defense that had been successful against the Bee's powerful offensive attack looked run down and unable to stop the run game.
"I thought our defense played a great game. A few spots here and there I think they got tired," Waite said on the Bears defense.
The Bear's offense was finally able to gain some traction and showed glimpses of what the offense is capable of as they quickly marched down the field through the air before ending in the end zone with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Jeppsen to junior Owen Olsen. With the successful extra point, the Bears cut the lead, 29-13. The Bears were able to successfully recover the onside kick and looked to be ready to score again.
After four incomplete passes the drive looked to be over, but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Bears another chance. Bear River was unable to move the ball and was sacked twice on the drive. The Bears turned the ball over on downs. Box Elder got a 45-yard run on the ensuing drive and was quickly again in scoring position. The Bears forced a turnover and had one last chance to score. The Bears chances ended with another interception by Jeppsen.
With a final score of 29-13, the Bees extended their overall record against the Bears on the football field to 73-27-2.
Didn't catch the 2022 Battle for the Golden Spike game against Bear River and Box Elder live? No worries, Bear River Live has you covered! Click on the links below to watch.
The Bear River High football team will now try and regroup as they prepare to start Region 11 play Friday, September 9, at 7 p.m., as they host the winless Wolves from Green Canyon High.
"I think it will be fun to see how the region unfolds. I think all six teams could claim the region championship so we shall see if we could put it all together and put ourselves in the hunt," added Waite.
Watch the game live courtesy of Bear River Live on the link below.