Wednesday, October 20, 2021

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Pierce pummels Live Oak

Pierce’s Ryan Travis makes a catch for 19 yards during the Bears’ 48-0 win over Live Oak on October 8. Travis also had an interception and kicked six extra points.

In the dictionary, the definition of dominant is “commanding, controlling, or prevailing over others,” and that described perfectly the performance by the Pierce Bears last Friday night at Gregg LeMaster Field in Arbuckle, as they absolutely thrashed visiting Live Oak, 48-0.

In front of a large homecoming crowd, it didn’t take long for the Bears to establish themselves, when on the third play of the game, safety Bryce Murphy intercepted a pass, giving Pierce the ball at the Lion 46-yard line.

After a broken play to start the possession, the Bears made an immediate adjustment and, following an eight yard gain by Manuel Lopez, Daniel Gonzalez took the hand off from Murphy and raced 34 yards to the end zone to get Pierce on the board with 9:17 remaining in the opening quarter.

It was just the beginning, however, when less than a minute later, cornerback Ryan Travis made the Bears’ second pick of the night.

Travis would then put Pierce in position to add to their lead when on offense, he hauled in a 23-yard pass at the five-yard line. 

From there, Lopez did the rest, powering his way in for the touchdown and extending the advantage to 14-0.

On Live Oak’s next try, a Brandon Saavedra sack, resulting in a 12-yard loss, putting the Lions in a hole from which they couldn’t escape. 

Working with a short field, Iain Kalfsbeek got into the act with four minutes left in the quarter, taking the ball around the outside for the Bears’ third touchdown.

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Pierce lineman Belsazar Haro gets a carry in the Bears 48-0 win over visiting Live Oak on Oct 8.

It was more of the same for the remainder of the period, as the Lions continued to struggle with the exchange in their running game, turning the ball over twice more and allowing Pierce to capitalize.

Kaden Davis rumbled seven yards up the middle for one score, while Lopez took it in from three yards away to close out the first quarter, with the score 35-0.

As the second period dawned, the Lions opted for a running clock and, despite finally stopping the Bears from scoring, turned it over for a sixth time, giving it back to Pierce in the red area where, one play later, Rudy Tapia took the ball 20 yards into the end zone.

With the score 42-0 at intermission, and the clock rolling in the second half, there wasn’t much action. However, the Bears punctuated their homecoming victory when Orlando Zuniga delivered a 30-yard pick six on the game’s final play.

It was certainly an odd contest in the sense that three-quarters of it was played with a running clock, but it also served as an example of Pierce’s ability to dominate an opponent, as head coach Anthony Tapia explained.

“It was a weird game,” Tapia said. “We made a couple of mistakes in our first possession, but overall, I’m very happy with our performance. I’m glad we looked the way we did because we want to set a tone. We also kept our cool against a team that was frustrated, which is really important for us.”

For the second week in a row, the Bear defense was stifling, not only shutting out the Lions, but also holding them to just 22 yards of total offense. 

Saavedra, who registered two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a recovery, led the way, and also showed off his speed and agility with a 30-yard return on the second half kickoff. 

On offense, Lopez finished with seven carries for 54 yards and two touchdowns, while Jesus Calderon, who normally is opening up holes along the line, got a chance in the backfield, where he rushed twice for 28 yards.

Pierce (5-2, 3-0) is off this week and begins preparation for a showdown with Paradise on the road at Om Wraith Field on Oct. 22, which could ultimately determine control of the Sacramento League.

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