LINDEN-The Summerville Bears wanted to be in complete control of their postseason destiny but first had to manage the final 8:28 of clock left in Friday night's 35-14 thrashing of Linden.
And that final drive must have felt like it was never-ending for the Lions.
The Bears gained possession on a Linden fumble and showed superb clock management while picking up five first downs on a 14-play drive. Bears quarterback Jesse Roberson was able to take a knee to seal the victory after the offense marched 50 yards down the field to Linden's 3.
The overall dominance on both sides of the ball was evident in Summerville's 21 first downs compared to Linden's four. The Bears' offense held onto the ball for 32:20 while the defense only granted the Lions a meager 15:40.
Friday's win also felt like redemption of sorts for some Bear players still remembering when Linden came into Thorsted Field last year and spoiled their playoff hopes after coming back from a more than 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
"We came out hitting," said Bears running back Joey Brocchini. "We remembered last year and it wasn't a good game for us. They came back in the second half, so we were worried about that. But it feels nice coming here and beating Linden because they're tough at home."
Brocchini scored in the third quarter of Friday's game on a completely untouched 9-yard rush to the endzone. The Bears got the ball at their 22 after a failed fourth down conversion by Linden and mixed up the play calls nicely to keep defenders guessing during the scoring drive.
Bears running back Tanner Krieg picked up 21 yards on three carries and Roberson aired the ball out to several receivers, including a 33-yard play action pass to a streaking Dalton Day which set up Brocchini's touchdown.
"The line blocked perfect," Brocchini said of his touchdown. "I just read their blocks and a free lane opened up, so that was all the line on that one."
Summerville started the game aggressive and never eased up the onslaught. An 80-yard opening drive saw the Bears put up the first points of the game and eat 5:14 of precious clock in the process.
Starting at their own 20, the Bears picked up five first downs with 40 yards rushing and 14 yards passing to bring them to Linden's 20.
Roberson then threw a strike to Day in the corner of the endzone to take the early 7-0 lead with 6:46 in the first quarter.
"That first one was a play call by Watson," said Day, who would go on to connect with Roberson in the fourth quarter for the game's final touchdown on an 18-yard pass. "I knew I just had to get past that kid. I avoided him on a go, the ball was thrown perfectly and I just turned and went up and got it.
"On the second one, this kid was pressing me inside the whole time. Watson said press him hard on the inside and then go outside. Thankfully, I pressed him hard enough to where he slipped and fell, then I was wide open."
Day caught the Roberson pass for a touchdown to bring Summerville's lead to 35-14 with 11:10 left in the game. Day ended the game with four receptions for 80 yards including the two touchdowns.
"He's just such a fast receiver," said Roberson, who had nine completions for 148 yards on 13 attempts. "There's no way they were going to keep up with him when they were manned up, and he just ran past them. All I had to do was throw it out there for him."
Also with a big game on offense was Krieg, who rushed for 225 yards on 30 carries, averaging 7.5 yards every time he touched the ball. Krieg scored on two 1-yard dives at the goal line during the second quarter, one with 10:29 in the first half and the other with 0:28.
Bears tight end Connor Morningstar helped extend the drive that culminated with Krieg's second touchdown by making a spectacular one-handed catch near the sideline for 16 yards and a first down.
On the Bears' prior possession, Morningstar caught a Roberson pass around midfield and outran a defender in hot pursuit for a 73-yard touchdown. The electrifying play was unfortunately called back by a penalty.
Morningstar said he likes the way Summerville is playing heading into the postseason.
"We gave up only 14 points tonight against a really good veer offense," he said. "Our defense is strong and our offense played a really good game. Props to all of our coaches. It was a good job all around."
Overall, the Bears had 468 total yards compared to Linden's 197. Summerville also never fumbled but recovered two from Linden. Both teams had an interception but Linden also turned the ball over twice on failed fourth down attempts.
The Bears (8-2, Mother Lode League 3-2) hoped that a win over the Lions (3-7, MLL 1-4) would propel them to host a home game in the first round of the 2012 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Championships.
However, the Division IV bracket released Saturday afternoon pits 12th-seeded Summerville on the road against fifth-seeded Los Banos (9-1, Western League 5-1) on Nov. 9.
"They're a very good team," said Bears head coach Ben Watson of the Los Banos Tigers via phone on Sunday. "They only have one loss (against Central Catholic), so they're the team to beat of course. Los Banos is a great team but we've got a lot of great teams in our division.
"You can hope for all kinds of stuff, but the fact is you've got to play whoever's in the division. You always want a home game, but the way it shook out didn't go our way. We've got nothing to be ashamed of not having a home game because you have to go on the road anyway, so here's an opportunity to go upset somebody."