It was a nippy 51 degrees in Angels Camp as the Bret Harte Bullfrogs began their night offensively after a Summerville Bears’ deferment.
The Frogs’ Javon GIlbert caught a pass up the middle for a 15-yard gain and a midfield position.
It took that play for Summerville to settle in defensively and force a quick three and out with a minute off the clock.
Summerville’s Dominic Esquivel set up in the backfield, took the pitch from quarterback Mike Litzler and punched his way up the middle for a 13-yard gain, followed by a 10-yard gain.
That momentum was snuffed out after a blow to the head penalty on the Bears.
As expected some new names got the early call. Junior tight end Colby Hathcoat helped move the sticks for a first down before the downhill running Bears posted their first score of the night, taking a 7-0 lead with 6:49 left in the first quarter.
The Frogs fumbled the ball on the kick return but recovered setting them up near the 30 yard line.
Ryan Kraft sent a screen pass to Javon Gilbert who swooped down the left side for a first down.
Gilbert’s speed and a Bears penalty moved the Frogs into Summerville territory.
Another shot to the head was called on the Bears and the Frogs strolled to the 19 yard line.
Kraft set up the Frogs at the two with a keeper and Bret Harte cruised into the endzone on the next play.
With 2:23 left the score was tied 7-7.
Summerville’s Litzler found Luke Fulkerson for a pass into Bears territory.
Esquivel then did Esquivel things, twisting, pulling and lunging to the 10.
And as the clock expired on the first quarter, Summerville scored again, moving the score to 13-7 after a missed point after attempt.
As second quarter play began the Bears’ defense began to chip away at the Frogs’ defensive line.
They forced a turnover on downs near the 50 yard line.
A Bears miscue on a fourth down conversion attempt forced them to instead punt with 9:20 left in the half.
Nicholas Veach got his first yardage of the night on a run that was good enough for a first down.He ran full steam into a Frogs defender before bouncing across the goal line for a touchdown.
A successful point after moved the score to 20-7 with 5:46 to play in the half.
What could have been a momentum crusher – a holding penalty against the Frogs – was saved by a speedy quarterback keep by Kraft to set up a third and five.
He moved the sticks himself on another running play. And the Frogs got an extra 15 tacked on the play after a Bears’ horse-collar tackle on Kraft.
After the game, Bret Harte coach Casey Kester said the most important thing he wanted to see from his team was that they wouldn’t give up. The players gave him what he wanted.
“The things I’ve been trying to get these kids to do is not quit on themselves, and you can see it showing up,” he said. “We may not be able to hang with teams like this – Summerville’s a very good team – but my kids hung in there.”
Summerville coach Sean Leveroos said, “Bret Harte refuses to quit, and it doesn’t surprise me at all. We knew they wouldn’t. That’s the kind of team they are.”
What looked to be a promising drive was snuffed out as Bears senior McCormick Banks snatched the ball from the Frogs and ran the length of the field for a touchdown.
The Bears attempted a 2-point conversion but Fulkerson was pushed out of bounds shy of the goal line.
The Bears led 26-7 with 3:55 left in the half.
On the next series the Bullfrogs put together a tidy mix of plays before Kraft found Karson Kirk for a touchdown, moving the score to 26-14 with a minute left in the half.
But the Bears weren’t done with their first half scoring just yet.
Fulkerson and Litzler were in the backfield to receive the kick. Fulkerson caught it, faked a handoff to Litzler then hid the ball at his side as a huddle of Bears led him up the field for a touchdown.
The extra point kick was up and good and the Bears led 33-14 as the first half expired.
The Bears offense got to work quickly in the second half, marching the ball down to the 10 yard line within a minute of play.
Litzler then found Jared Brick for a pop pass and a touchdown.
The Bears extended their lead to 40-14 with 9:41 left in the third.
The Bullfrogs were able to force a turnover on downs after the Bears had pummeled their way near the Frogs’ 20 late in the third quarter.
Kraft connected with Cameron Silva for a big gainer to set the Bullfrogs up in Bears territory to begin the fourth quarter.
With time quickly slipping away the Bears forced a four and out, taking over near their 20.
And so began the clock-chewing run game.
After a series of first downs, the Frogs forced a punt, booted by Fulkerson. And the Bears pinned the Frogs at their own 21 with 8:08 left in the game.
Despite a leaping play by Kraft to regain some negative yards, the Frogs turned it over on downs with 6:49 left.
A Bullfrog penalty gave the Bears half the distance to the goal and senior Devin Durden rumbled into the endzone. A good point after and the Bears led 47-14.
The Bullfrogs didn’t go quietly, pushing their way down the field for several first down conversions. They faced a fourth and six on the eight. Kraft was flushed from the picket, ran left and picked up the first down.
The Frogs would add another seven points to the board, making it 47-21 with 1:43 left to play.
And that’s how the game would end.
Summerville moves to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in league play.
They take on Calaveras High School next Friday at 7 p.m. at home.
Bret Harte is now 1-7 overall and 0-4 in league play.
Next Friday they’ll play at Linden High School. The game starts at 7 p.m.