Pierce 29 – Winters 21
Battling for their playoff lives, the Bears held off visiting Winters thanks to some last second heroics from David Aguirre, who picked off a pass in the end zone with six seconds left on the clock to preserve the win in the final regular season game of the year.
Coach Anthony Tapia called it a “breakout game” for Aguirre, a junior, who gained 159 yards on 12 carries including touchdown runs of 50 and 46 yards respectively.
Pierce had its triple option at near full strength for the first time since early in the season as Manuel Lopez, despite being the focus of the Warrior defense rushed 17 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns, while Rudy Tapia, also returning from injury, carried 11 times for 89 yards.
It was the success of Aguirre and Tapia running off the edge that according to Coach Tapia softened up the middle, and allowed Lopez to get big gains in the second half.
However, containing the Warriors’ high-powered offense was no easy task and while the defense struggled against the one-two punch of Winters’ Gio Jimenez and Justice Madsen, the Bears ultimately got the job done.
Spearheading the defensive effort was Luke Myers and Joey Saavedra, a pair of senior linebackers.
Myers ended the night making 12 tackles including two for losses, while Saavedra finished with 10 tackles, a forced fumble and two timely pass deflections.
Erick Ambriz also drew praise from Tapia, who said that senior played his best game of the year on the defensive line where he recorded two sacks.
Emerging from the nail biter with a victory should give Pierce (5-5) confidence as they head into the Northern Section CIF Division IV playoffs as the No. 5 seed and travel to Hamilton City on Friday night to square off against the No. 4 Braves.
Maxwell 43 – Weed 49
A trip to Weed ended in heartbreak for the Panthers as, despite having a big night offensively, they were hampered by three turnovers and also lost the penalty battle to the hometown Cougars.
Leading the Panther offense was its quarterback Dillon Dry, who rushed for 179 yards on 23 carries and four touchdowns in addition to completing 13 of 22 passes for 188 yards.
Berto Lara also had an impressive effort running the ball carrying 16 times for 202 yards, but according to head coach Lane Davis suffered an injury and may be unavailable for next week’s first round playoff game.
Receiver Rudi Gonzalez made six catches for 95 yards and a rushing touchdown, while his counterpart Angel Iniguez hauled in four passes for 43 yards.
Defensively, Isaac Iniguez finished with seven tackles and an interception, Cale Kuska had six tackles and a fumble recovery, and Robert Waite added an interception as well.
In a telephone interview, Davis had nothing but respect for the Cougars, but was also perplexed by what he felt was a discrepancy in the way that penalties were assessed in the contest.
“They are well-coached and their quarterback is the best player in the Cascade Valley League as far as I’m concerned,” Davis said. “But I’m frustrated because the only thing that stopped us were the penalties.”
It will be a rematch for Maxwell (5-5), the No. 5 seed in the NSCIF Division V playoffs, when it returns to Weed to face the No. 4 Cougars on Friday night.
Williams 0 – Hamilton City 21
Williams saw its season come to an end last Friday night at McCarl Field, when, despite holding the Braves to 188 yards below their season average, they could not put any points of their own on the board.
“Our defense played well,” said head coach Jeff Lemus. “We had chances with the ball inside the 15 twice, but couldn’t punch it in.”
Without question, it was a situation that plagued the ‘Jackets all season long as they were outscored 277-154.
Against Hamilton City, quarterback Adrian Solis completed seven passes for 87 yards and additionally rushed for a team high 55 yards to lead the Yellowjacket effort on offense.
Angel Munoz ran for 54 yards on eight carries, while Esteban Garcia made one catch that was good for 43 yards.
No defensive statistics were available for Williams (2-8), the fourth place team in the Mid-Valley League.■