The Bears advanced back to the D-IV championship when it held off perennial small school power East Nicolaus, 13-8 Friday night in Arbuckle.
Pierce (9-3) will play at University Prep (12-0) -- a 15-8 winner over Durham in the other D-IV semifinal -- at 7 p.m. Nov. 24 in Redding.
Pierce head coach Anthony Tapia credited the special teams with recovering the ensuing onside kick immediately following East Nicolaus’ touchdown to cut the deficit in half.
The offense, led by quarterback Bryce Murphy and running back Manuel Lopez, preserved Pierce’s third straight win over East Nicolaus in 2021 by converting a first down to run out the clock out on the team’s next possession.
Lopez had 32 carries for 142 yards and both Pierce’s TDs.
Tapia said on defense Kaden Davis and Brandon Saavedra helped stymie the Spartans leading up to the fourth quarter. Davis had 9 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. Saavedra had 4 tackles and a sack. Rudy Tapia chipped in an interception for Pierce.
With the loss, East Nic (4-7) snapped its streak of seven consecutive trips to the championship game.
No.1 Sutter vs. No. 2 Paradise
With a 39-0 blowout of league rival Wheatland High, the Sutter Union Huskies advanced to another Northern Section Division III championship with a chance to win a NSCIF-high 14 career titles next Saturday night at home.
Sutter jumped out to a 15-0 lead on Wheatland (4-8), then expanded it to 24-0 at the break before scoring twice more in the second half to put away the Pirates and first-head coach Andy Fatten, a former Sutter assistant.
No. 1 Sutter (10-1) will, in all likelihood , host No. 2 Paradise for a second straight time in a D-III title game Nov. 27 at Wayne Gadberry Field in Sutter. Venues can be moved with mutual consent from participating schools, according to the section website. Sutter will seek a sixth title in its last seven trips to the D-III title game in its final year in the Northern Section.
Paradise (9-1) advanced to the final with a 49-6 win over Orland on Friday.
Championship tickets on sale soon
Tickets for the section finals will go on sale soon at https://gofan.co/app/school/CIFNS. Prices are $10 for general admission, $5 for seniors (60 and above) and students with an ASB, and $15 for an unaccompanied K-8 student.