Zebras top Bear River, capture share of PVL crown

Stanley catches five passes for 128 yards as Lincoln improves to 9-0
By: Ray Hacke, Journal Sports Writer
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LAKE OF THE PINES — A guy named Moses led the Lincoln High football team into the promised land Friday night. Senior running back Moses Stanley caught five passes for 128 yards as the Fighting Zebras defeated host Bear River 29-15 at J. David Ramsey Stadium. The victory gave unbeaten Lincoln (9-0) a share of the Pioneer Valley League crown and all but eliminated the Bruins (4-5, 1-4 PVL) from Sac-Joaquin Section playoff contention. Normally a threat as a rusher — he came into Friday’s game averaging more than nine yards per carry — Stanley became senior quarterback Alex Stewart’s primary receiving target. Though he didn’t catch any touchdown passes, Stanley hauled in two long passes that led to Lincoln TDs shortly thereafter. “Bear River did a great job clogging the power (running) game against us,” Zebras coach Ken Lowe said. “Sometimes they had nine guys in the box. “Sometimes we have to take what they give us, and we had to air it out to move the ball, which is what we ended up doing.” Bruins co-coach Terry Logue said his team repeatedly got “killed” on the same pass play — a fake run off tackle that saw Stanley get into the defensive backfield, where he was usually isolated one-on-one with a cornerback. “We practiced against it all week,” Logue said. “We just didn’t cover it like we should have.” Lincoln trailed 7-6 late in the second quarter when Stanley caught a 32-yard pass from Stewart to put the Zebras at Bear River’s 12-yard line. Two plays later, Stewart completed a 10-yard pass to senior receiver Dylan Croisant to put the Zebras ahead 14-7 with 18 seconds remaining in the half. Stanley’s longest catch was a 69-yarder in the fourth quarter that put Lincoln at the Bruins’ 6. Three plays later, senior fullback Tim Bevins had his second 1-yard touchdown plunge of the game, giving the Zebras a 29-15 advantage that would ultimately be the final outcome. Stewart completed 9-of-11 passes for a career-high 205 yards. His nine completions came consecutively after he threw his lone interception, a touchdown-saving pick by Bear River cornerback Chris Talbot in the second quarter. Bear River’s offense was led by senior halfback Johnny Jewett, who finished with 159 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries, and senior fullback Cole White, who had seven carries for 60 yards and the game’s first TD, a 31-yard run in the second quarter. Jewett’s TD came on the first play of the third quarter, a 54-yarder that helped the Bruins take a 15-14 lead after Jewett caught the ensuing two-point conversion pass from sophomore quarterback James Harris. The lead was short-lived, however. On Bear River’s next possession, Lincoln’s Thomas Little laid a vicious hit on Harris in the backfield, causing a fumble that fellow junior linebacker Anthony Esparza recovered at the Bruins’ 29. Senior running back Alex Cowden capped Lincoln’s ensuing six-play drive with a 1-yard TD run that put the Zebras ahead to stay. Cowden finished with 118 yards on 18 carries. The fumble was one of three for Bear River in the second half. Two led to Lincoln touchdowns, and the third enabled the Zebras to run out the clock in the game’s final minutes. Defensive back Zak Gianola and defensive tackle Jacob Tryon, both seniors, had Lincoln’s final two fumble recoveries. “This was the hardest we’ve played all year,” said Logue, Bear River’s coach. “Sometimes you don’t get rewarded for outplaying the other team, and I thought we outplayed ’em. They just made a couple of big plays and we made a couple of fumbles at the wrong times.” Junior varsity Brandon Wooner and Dallen Huetter were each responsible for three Bear River touchdowns Friday night as the unbeaten Bruins captured a share of the PVL title with a 47-6 win over visiting Lincoln. Wooner, a running back/defensive end, had five carries for 96 yards — most of them on one 80-yard run — and two TDs on offense. He also returned an interception 34 yards for a score in the second quarter. Huetter, the Bruins’ quarterback, had touchdown runs of 78 and 6 yards and also threw a TD pass to Justin Butler. Also scoring for the Bruins (9-0, 5-0PVL) was Josh Toft, who got the game’s first TD on a 3-yard run in the second quarter. Toft finished with 68 yards on seven carries, and fellow running back Jimmy Bamburg had 70 yards on 11 carries as Bear River generated 377 yards on the ground. Dillon Huffman led Bear River defensively with 11 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Fellow defensive tackle Nick Mendenwald and Wooner added six tackles apiece.