In the newest rendition of one of Colusa County’s longest standing rivalries dating back at least 91 years, the Pierce Bears propelled themselves to the top of the Sacramento Valley League standings by soundly defeating the visiting Colusa RedHawks 34-14 last Friday night in Arbuckle.
Pierce led the contest wire-to-wire jumping ahead with two first half touchdowns and never relinquishing the lead, although the RedHawks made a game of it in the third quarter as they capitalized on two Bear turnovers.
While at the outset, it seemed as though the evenly matched teams would be locked in a defense struggle after they both turned the ball over on downs in their initial possessions, that impression was soon to change.
It took almost a full quarter, but Pierce drew first blood after quarterback Eduardo Paiz hit receiver Justin Mathews for a 42-yard gain into RedHawk territory, Aiden Charter took the next handoff, bounced outside then cutback and raced 43 yards to the end zone.
The Bears then added a second score with less than two minutes to go in the half, after capitalizing on a RedHawk turnover and completing an 11-play, 67-yard drive.
It was Charter for his second touchdown on the night, catching a pass from Paiz in the flat and taking it 21 yards to the house to give the Bears a 14-0 lead.
Charter finished with 155 yards rushing on eight carries as the Bears rolled up 350 yards on the ground.
Yet the biggest play of the game was still to come as the Bears received the ball to start the second half.
After being stymied on three straight plays by the RedHawk defense, Pierce, facing a fourth down and eight on their own 20 yard line elected to go for it and converted when sure handed receiver Luke Voorhees hauled in a Paiz pass to keep the drive alive and bolster the Bears’ confidence.
Four plays later, the Bears would find the end zone, with what would ultimately be game-winner, when Jesus Ruiz plunged in from a yard out to give Pierce a 21-0 advantage.
Afterwards when asked about the gutsy call, Coach Anthony Tapia explained his decision saying, ”It was unconventional, but we wanted our guys to know we believed in them and we also felt we needed something to spark us. It was a low scoring game and could have gone either way at one point, but we handled our business,” said Tapia.
Despite holding the momentum, the Bears got a bit careless committing two turnovers, which allowed the RedHawks to score twice in a three minute span and get themselves back into the game.
Colusa’s first opportunity came when Riley Stice recovered a fumble at the Bear 17 yard line and then four plays later ran it in from five yards out to get the RedHawks on the board.
It was more of the same for the Bears in the ensuing series as Colusa’s Anthony Berry recovered a second Pierce fumble at the RedHawk 42, which would eventually lead to a one-yard run by Stice bringing Colusa to within seven points with most of the fourth quarter remaining.
After defensive stands by both teams, the Bears put together an eight play 55-yard drive capped by a Paiz one yard run making the score 27-17 and seemingly breaking the RedHawks’ back, with just under five minutes left in the game.
Nevertheless, the final nail in the coffin occurred in the RedHawks’ next possession when Pierce’s Tristan Miller intercepted a pass and returned the ball to the Colusa 17 yard line, setting up a Niko Williams’ touchdown, Pierce’s last of the night.
On offense the Bears accumulated over 500 yards as in addition to Charter, Eduardo Ambriz carried nine times for 81 yards, Paiz completed seven passes for 179 yards and Mathews caught two balls for 80 yards.
Still, credit also goes to the Bears defense, which while bending, never broke, and consistently made plays to thwart the RedHawk efforts.
Without question, one of the unsung players in the game for Pierce was Voorhees, who in addition to the big fourth down catch made two sacks on defense at critical junctures and recovered a fumble which drew praise from his coach.
“Luke is one of the only junior captains we’ve had and that in itself says a lot. He doesn’t get all the attention everyone else does, but he’s one of the hardest workers, a good playmaker and just makes everyone else better,” Tapia said.
For the RedHawks, while Stice delivered both touchdowns, another bright spot was the play of Victor Hernandez who caught six passes for 60 yards in addition to intercepting a pass on defense.
Pierce (3-2, 1-0) now enters into its bye week, while Colusa (2-3, 0-1) hopes to end a two game skid in its homecoming game against Willows (1-3, 0-1).