SPORTS - "Lakers hand the Bears their first loss of the season"

WASHINGTON TERRACE – By Gene Wilcox – August 30, 2020

The Bear River High School 2020 football team found out that going on the road against a 5A team was a tough task - losing 37-13 to a talented Bonneville High School team on Friday, August 28, 2020.

The Bears will need to have a short memory as they turn their focus to Box Elder High School and the 100th annual “Battle for the Golden Spike” football game.

The Bonneville game started poorly for the Bears. Bonneville’s defense was ready to stop Bear River’s Kace Jones and force a three and out on the first series. The Bear punt was short, giving Bonneville excellent field position for their first offensive series.

Bonneville immediately took a shot to the end zone and scored on a 44-yard pass. The two-point conversion was successful and the Bears were in an 8-0 hole. It was the first time in this short season that the Bears found themselves trailing in a game.

Bear River’s defense was able to come up with stops in the first quarter. The offense struggled to find any traction, and at quarters end, the Bears were in a tight 8-0 game with an athletic Bonneville Laker team.

In the second quarter, the wheels came off as Bonneville scored 19 unanswered points. Penalties and turnovers, as well as mental errors proved to be too much for the Bears to overcome. The Lakers scored on the first play of the second quarter on a 12-yard fade pass. The Lakers struck again on a 53-yard post touchdown pass. The back-breaker came on the last drive of the half.

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Bonneville took over with 4:28 left in the half, and with some penalties and big plays, drove down the field. Bonneville picked up a first down on a fourth and eight with :37 seconds left. The dragger came when the Lakers scored with four seconds left in the half from the seven-yard line. The point-after was missed by the Lakers, bringing the score to 27-0 at half time.

The second half started poorly for the Bear Gridders as well. Bonneville took the opening kick and possession and marched downfield and scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass. The score gave Bonneville a 34-0 lead.

Offensively, the Bears continued to struggle. Jones had flashes of breaking off a big run but was one tackle away from doing it. The Bears’ passing game was ineffective as the Bonneville pass-rush gave Bear River sophomore quarterback Ryker Jeppsen little time to set up his passing attack.

The Bears finally got points on the board when Justice Dworshak recovered a fumble in the end zone, for a touchdown. Jones set up the fumble with a brutal hit on the Laker running back, which jarred the ball loose. Dworshak was in the right spot and pounced on the loose ball to give the Bears their first points of the game.

Bonneville scored their last points of the game on a 24-yard field goal with 2:30 left in the third quarter. The Laker field goal extended the lead to 37-6 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Bears were finally able to open it up on offense in the fourth quarter with Jeppsen finding numerous open receivers for yardage. Senior Chance Udy finished off a series with a nifty 15-yard touchdown run. Ammon Nelson’s P.A.T. was true, bringing the score to 37-13 in favor of Bonnevile.

Bear River’s head football coach Chris Wise was able to rest some starters and give the under-classmen valuable playing time to finish things off. The Bears mounted some drives, but were never able to put any points on the board.

In the end, Wise was disappointed with the loss but not the effort.

“Bonneville’s skilled players were well coached and athletic. Their QB was strong-armed and precise. It is the first time we have seen a pro-set offense this year, and it will serve us well in region, where most teams run a similar type offense,” said Wise.

The Bears will now look toward taking on Box Elder and the 100th meeting for the Golden Spike. The game is the longest continually played football game in the state. Box Elder has dominated the series recently, winning last year’s game 54-34 in Brigham City.

The Bears’ last victory came in 2017 when the Bears shut out the Bees 19-0. That was when this year’s senior class were sophomores.

The Bees come into this game with an 0-3 record after losing to a good Rigby, Idaho team, 51-0 on August 29. The Bees’ record is deceptive, having played three very good teams in the preseason.

The Bears are coming off their first loss of the season and are sporting a 2-1 record.

“It should be a great game,” said Wise, a long-time football coach at Bear River High.

“They (Box Elder) are big and athletic on the line and their QB, Parker Buchanan is very similar to Bonneville’s quarterback. He is athletic and tall with a great arm and can run,” noted Wise. “I am grateful with all that is happening that we are able to play this game.”

Tickets to the Bear River vs. Box Elder football game can be purchased online HERE.

School administrators highly recommend that tickets are purchased ahead of time and not at the game and remember to bring a face mask (mandatory for admission).

Game time is set for 7 p.m. in Garland at Bear River High.

With the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic causing cancellations of many states’ fall athletic seasons, some in-state games have already been cancelled this fall because of COVID-19 outbreaks on several teams.

Bear River High School has yet to cancel any varsity football games this year.