BEAR RIVER HIGH - By Gene Wilcox - November 2, 2020
In a playoff classic, the Bear River High School football team avenged an earlier defeat to Green Canyon High, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 31-28 come-from-behind victory.
Bear River will now travel to sunny St. George for a quarter-final matchup with the Pine View High Panthers. Pine View is coming off a 42-10 victory over Crimson Cliffs and are the Region 9 champions with a 10-1 record. Pine View’s lone defeat came against Ridgeline High in the first game of the season. The game will be played at Pine View High and has an early 4 p.m. start time on Friday, Nov. 6.
The Green Canyon game proved to be a classic matchup of the Bears’ power running game vs. the Green Canyon spread passing game. Both offenses proved to be potent. The Bears’ opening drive had a penalty to negate a long goal line catch and the Bears went for a fourth down conversion and were stopped.
Green Canyon was stopped on their first two plays but on third down the Wolves’ quarterback Jake Lundin pump-faked, pulling in the defensive block. He then hit his wide-open receiver for an 84-yard touchdown pass and catch. The P.A.T. was true and the Bears were behind 7-0 early. The Wolves tried a quick on-side kick, but Bear River’s Cael Wilcox alertly recovered the kick giving the Bears excellent field position at their own 49-yard line. The Bears marched down the field and scored on Kace Jones’s one-yard touchdown plunge. The P.A.T. was blocked and the Bears were behind 7-6 at the end of the first quarter.
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In the second quarter, the Bear offense and defense made big plays. Sophomore safety Ryker Jeppsen stopped a Wolves drive with a timely fumble recovery. The Bears capitalized by driving downfield and scoring on quarterback Josh Payne’s keeper from four yards out. The P.A.T. was true and the Bears were up 13-7. The defense was able to make some big plays and Green Canyon was forced to punt.
Garrison Marble added to his big game by fielding the punt at the five and returning it 30-yards out to the 35-yard line, with just over two minutes left in the half. Three plays later, Jones took a handoff and sprinted 47-yards off tackle for a touchdown. The P.A.T. was blocked, and the Bears were up 19-7 with 1:36 left in the half.
Green Canyon proved that the time was more than enough with Lundin playing well and having two time-outs. The Wolves drove down to the Bears’ 14 and with 12 seconds to play, Lundin found an open receiver for a 15-yard touchdown. The P.A.T. was true and the half ended with the Bears leading 19-14 in a tight game.
The second half started where the first ended. Green Canyon took the opening kickoff and put together a drive. The Bear River defense put the Wolves in a fourth and one situation. The Wolves went for a quarterback sneak and Lundin looked to be bottled up but broke outside and turned it into a 42-yard touchdown and a 21-19 lead.
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After a nice reverse kickoff return by Gabe Dwaileebe, the Bears were stopped and forced into a punting situation. The snap was low and Green Canyon was able to get to the punter giving them the ball at the 35-yard line. On the first play, Lundin pump-faked and hit a wide-open receiver for a touchdown. The P.A.T. was good, and the Bears looked to be in trouble with a 28-19 deficit at the end of the third quarter.
The Bears put together a nice drive and finished it on a 42-yard halfback pass from Jones to Marble. Marble high-pointed the ball, out-jumping the Wolves defenders. After coming down with the ball, Marble turned and ran the ball in from five-yards away. The Bears chose to go for the two-point conversion and were stopped. The score brought the game to a 28-25 deficit with eight minutes left in the game.
Green Canyon started the next series by marching downfield and chewing up the clock. On third down and 10, Marble came up with an interception and returned it to the 46-yard line where the Bear offense took over. With 3:17 left in the game, the Bears were behind by three points. On the first play from scrimmage, Payne took a shotgun snap, and found Dwaileebe on a short crossing route over the middle. Dwaileebe juked two defenders and cut to the sideline, Dwaileebe broke a tackle, cut to the middle of the field, and outran the Wolves’ defenders to the endzone. The amazing run was followed by a successful P.A.T. and that quickly, the Bears were up 32-28 with 2:55 left to play.
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Green Canyon was up for the challenge as the Bear River faithful collectively held their breath. With two timeouts, the game took on an eerily similar look to the regular season game. Lundin engineered a drive with successful passes and runs. With 1:30 left and the ball at the 30-yard line, the bear defense stiffened. Three consecutive passes, defended by Marble, Wilcox and Darian Johnson, put the Wolves in a fourth and 10-situation. Lundin dropped back and scrambled under pressure, was forced to run, and the Wolves QB was stopped short of the first down.
With 1:00 left, the Bear River offense took over. Green Canyon burned two time-outs, and the Bears had to run one play with a fourth and seven and four seconds left. Payne took the snap, scrambled, and ran the clock out for the Bear River victory.
The Bear victory was a total team effort but some impressive stats were turned in. Dwaileebe had a monster game, with a 45-yard kickoff return, 72-yards receiving and the 53-yard game-winning touchdown reception. Sophomore safety Jeppsen led the team with nine tackles and a crucial fumble recovery.
Junior cornerback Marble had a punt return for 21-yards, 84-yards receiving and a touchdown and an interception that set up the game-winning touchdown. Not to be outdone, Jones had 195-yards rushing and two touchdowns, he threw one pass for 38-yards and a touchdown and had four tackles on defense.
The Bears will now face a potent Pine View team that leads the state in most offensive categories. The Panthers are 10-1 on the season and thumped region foe Crimson Cliffs High 42-10 in their first playoff game. The Panthers run a pro-set spread offense and have the state’s leading receiver, as well as a potent running-back to contend with. If the Bears can slow the Panther offense and unleash their ground game, anything could happen.
Photos by Chad Hurst