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Falcons Work Overtime; Kick Bruins, 31-30

Colfax outlasts Bear River to win delayed PVL opener
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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LAKE OF THE PINES - If one of the goals for the Colfax High football team this season is to return to the upper echelon of the Pioneer Valley League, the Falcons took a big step in that direction here Monday night. Opening their PVL season in dramatic fashion, Colfax’s Falcons overcame a three-day delay to its regular season schedule and more importantly battled back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to post a stunning 31-30 overtime win over host Bear River. Now 3-1 overall on the season and 1-0 in the PVL, Colfax used Mackey Leal’s perfect point after touchdown kick following a 10-yard touchdown run by Josh Moreno in the first overtime to provide the Falcons with their margin of victory. The winning kick sent a flood of Falcon fans onto the Dave Ramsey Field to celebrate a win that came three days after the two teams had their Friday contest postponed following a flu bug that hit the Bruins squad. Leal and Moreno’s overtime heroics were set up by the Falcons’ Kyle Pierce and Nick Linthicum who broke through and blocked Bear River’s attempted extra point kick after a seven-yard touchdown pass from James Harris to Will Gray had allowed the Bruins to draw first blood in the overtime session. “It was just a super, super team effort tonight,” said Colfax coach Tony Martello. “I’m very happy for our seniors,” said Martello noting that Colfax’s upper classmen had never beaten the Bruins in their three previous opportunities. “They really hung in there.” While the win was big for the Falcons considering it was the PVL opener, the Falcons won’t have much time to celebrate. That’s because the Falcons return home for a quick turnaround to host defending PVL champion Whitney Friday night at Marson Stadium at 7:30 p.m.. The Wildcats, most likely, won’t be in a mild frame of mind either when you consider the Rocklin school was handed a 21-14 loss at the hands of upstart Lincoln last week in its league opener. “Our league is very, very tough this season,” said Martello. “We have another big challenge on Friday. There isn’t any room to relax in this league.” There definitely wasn’t much breathing room in Monday’s game either as both teams used a slew of big plays to go up and down Ramsey Field like a pair of finely tuned Ferraris. Bear River opened the game’s scoring when they capitalized on the Falcons fumbling the ball away on their first play from scrimmage at their own 19. Cole White capped the short five-play drive to go over from two yards out. Michael Lohrke’s extra point made the score, 7-0, just two and a half minutes in. But Colfax fans didn’t have to wait too long to find something to cheer about. On their next possession, the Falcons’ Pat Rawlins gained a yard and Mark Machholz and Dave Schweitzer teamed for four yards on a shovel pass before Moreno took a reverse handoff, got around right end and cut back up the middle where he outran the Bruins secondary to complete a 75-yard touchdown dash. Leal’s PAT boot tied the game with 8:20 to go in the first. After the two teams traded possessions, Bear River’s Johnny Jewett regained the lead for the Bruins when he went off tackle and cut back his way 74 yards for six points which boosted the Bruins back on top, 14-7, still with 2:08 to play in the opening stanza. After Lohrke booted another kickoff into the end zone for a touchback, Colfax came right back. On the first play from scrimmage, Schweitzer took an inside trap and scooted 43 yards to the Bruins’ 47. Then on a key 4th and one from the Bear River 27, Rawlins went around left end and motored 25 yards down to the Bruins’ two. One play later Rawlins boomed over for the score and Leal’s following PAT tied the game with 11:36 still left in the opening half. The Bruins then had their next drive end with a missed 44-yard field goal by Lohrke before Colfax picked up two first downs on its next possession and punted the ball back to the Bruins. Starting from their own 22, the Bruins forged a nice drive. With White running and throwing from the “Wildcat” formation, and sophomore quarterback James Harris finding Gray on a big 12-yard third down conversion, the Bruins found themselves with a first down and goal from the Colfax nine-yard line with under two minutes to play in the half. However, Colfax’s defense, led by Michael Murphy, Tom Baldoni, Dan Stephens and Matt Price, stiffened and forced the Bruins to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Lohrke with just 22 seconds to go that left BR up, 17-14, at the break. The two teams then traded turnovers to start the third quarter as Shaun Wood intercepted Harris at the Bruins 45 but Colfax couldn’t capitalize as the Falcons lost a fumble four plays later at the Bear River 26. Bear River then took off on one of its patented clock consuming drives as the Bruins went on a 17-play 74-yard march that chewed up nearly the remainder of the third quarter. Harris then found Joey Reina in the back of the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown pass. Twice in the drive the Bruins converted fourth downs to keep their push alive. With a 24-14 margin and the third quarter winding down, the Bruins had built their cushion to 10 points but Colfax wouldn’t go away. On Lohrke’s ensuing kickoff, this time the Bruins paid dearly for the ball not reaching the end zone when Keith Russell took the Bear River kick and returned it 72 yards to the Bruins 15. Although the Falcons lost nine yards on their next three plays, Leal kept the Falcons close when he boomed through a 42-yard field goal with plenty of room to spare. The field goal – on the first play of the fourth quarter – brought Colfax to within, 24-17. With Colfax looking to close in, the Falcons defense, led by Pierce, Holden Klar, Grayson Crowley and sophomore Roger Lillie, forced the Bruins into their first three and out of the contest. When the Bruins followed with a short punt, the Falcons found themselves with excellent field position at the BR 44-yard line. From there, the Falcons continued to use its churning running attack to wilt the Bruins as Rawlins and Moreno brought the ball to the Bruins 30. Then, on consecutive plays, Rawlins swept around left end for 15 yards and then followed with a 15-yard dart up the center of Bear River’s defense. The touchdown – with 8:22 to play – brought the Falcons within one before Leal nailed the extra point making it 24-24. With “Big Mo” now shifted Colfax’s way, the Bruins primed themselves for one last push looking to ice the game and not leave any time on the clock for the Falcons. And, for the most part, the Bear River strategy almost worked. With Harris starting to find Reina with regularity and White and Jewett picking up some tough rushing yards against Colfax’s hard-hitting defense, the Bruins picked up three first downs and were sitting at the Falcons’ 29 with 3:30 to play. However, after Colby Angus gained two yards and Harris threw incomplete, the Bruins suffered a critical delay of game call. Harris was incomplete again on third down and sitting on fringe field goal range. Then under heavy pressure from a blitzing Baldoni, the Bruins again ran out of downs with another pass fell short. Colfax then did its best to try and win the game in regulation. Taking over from there 33 with just 2:16 to play, Rawlins brought the crowd to its feet when he skirted 26 yards to the Bear River 34. But the Falcons were then hit with a motion penalty and despite Rawlins going for 11 yards two plays later, Leal’s 43-yard field goal try was blocked by the Bruins’ Cody Van Fossen with 25 seconds to play. The Bruins then took a knee and the two teams were headed to overtime. Three years ago the game would have ended in a tie and the tie-breaker would have only been used to determine playoff seeding. However, in 2007, the CIF mandated that all tie games in the section be played to a conclusion because of the new state bowl system that was put in place. Colfax won the overtime toss and elected to go on defense first. Starting from the 10, White went for four yards and Jewett picked up a yard bringing up a third and five. Running out of a double tight end formation, the Bruins play-faked and Harris found Gray all alone in the back of the end zone to make the score 30-24, Bear River. But on the all important extra point kick, Pierce and Linthicum broke through Bear River’s right side and blocked Lohrke’s extra point kick. On Colfax’s possession, Machholz perhaps surprised Bear River’s defense by throwing on first down but the pass went out of the back of the end zone. On second down from the 10, Moreno took Machholz’ handoff and went around right end where he went into the end zone untouched for the game tying score. Leal then drilled the game winning extra point boot sending the Falcon sideline into celebration. GAME NOTES…..The win by the Falcons at Ramsey Field marks the fifth straight time the Falcons have won on the Bruins’ home turf….Bear River’s last win over Colfax at home came in 1999, 33-27…..Colfax’s Rawlins (23x146) and Moreno (7x114) both went over the century mark on the ground….Jewett led Bear River in rushing with 102 yards on 18 carries. However, after his 75-yard first quarter touchdown run, he was limited to just 27 yards on his next 13 carries…Colfax, which has won nine of the last 11 meetings with the Bruins, now leads the all-time series with the Bear River, 12-10….The game was Colfax’s second ever overtime contest, the first coming in 2005 against Truckee, a 20-14 Falcons win.