The smoky haze was gone from the Tuolumne hIlls Friday night. The fire that pushed the Bears to their first win was still there as gametime approached..
Summerville Bears and the Ripon Christian Knights. Game on.
Play got underway just as the sun was setting with Nick Veach and Justin Roberts receiving for Summerville. The Bears started at their own 23 yard line.
Jaden Brocchini got the start and the offense made things a bit tougher for his first snap with an illegal motion penalty.
Veach gobbled up the lost yards on the first down as the offense settled in.
Another penalty and an incomplete pass forced a three and out.
Mike Litzler made the tackle and kept the Knights to just a few yards on the punt return.
Two penalties on the Bears’ defense gave the Knights their first clear look at the endzone with 10 minutes to go in the first quarter.
Another defensive penalty. Another Knights first down. And with 6:24 to go in the first the Knights struck first, taking a 7-0 lead.
They bobbled the kickoff return and started on their own 19.
Summerville stuck with the run game in the next series, earning a first down after three grinding downs.
Veach and Brocchini were starting to show some of the sharpness that helped the Bears to their first win.
But another illegal motion penalty and two tackles for losses snuffed out the momentum.
The Knights took over with about three minutes to go in the first.
Their speedy ground game gave them another scoring opportunity with 2:20 to go.
First and goal. Touchdown. And the Knights surged to 14-0 with less than two to go.
Second quarter play began with the ball back in the Knights’ possession.
The Bears’ defense forced a three and out, but the kick bounced to within Summerville’s 1 yard line.
A bad Bears snap gave the Knights a safety and a 16-0 lead with 8:50 to go in the second.
The Knights pounded their way back up the field, but the Bears defense kept pace, forcing a fourth and three. The pitch play was stifled just short of the down marker and the Bears took over on downs with 6:57 to go in the half.
The Bears resumed the Veach and Brocchini ground attack. And on a third and eight, with Brocchini in the shotgun, the Bears picked up a first down with a pass to Jordan Craddock.
Mike Litzler came in for the Bears on a third and five, but his pass was intercepted and the Knights were back on offense with 4:06 to go in the half.
It took less than a minute for Ripon Christian to score again. Point after good. Personal foul on the Bears and the Knights led 23-0 with 3:10 left in the half.
Summerville had another shot before the end of the half after a touchback gave them the ball at their 20 yard line.
Brocchini picked up 11 yards and a first down. On the next snap, the Knights picked up a personal foul, roughing the passer, pushing the Bears up to their 46 yard line.
Then another three and out. A fumbled snap on the punt attempt and the Knights were back in Bears territory with 45 seconds to go in the half.
Half a minute to play.
Ten seconds to play.
The Knights offensive started their second half at their 43 yard line.
Two sizeable passing gains later and the Knights were deep in Bears territory.
But the Knights got a little greedy on a fourth down and goal, turning it over on downs.
The Bears handed it back at their own 21 yard line.
The Knights returned the favor at the Bears’ 15 with 2:45 to go in the third.
Brocchini took another hard hit on first and 10 and the Knights were handed a roughing the passer penalty.
Litzler came in for the next snap and blazed up the field for 39 yards.
Litzler picked up another first down on third and one.
Then a gift from the Knights in the form of a personal foul and a five yard gain.
Litzler carried again to put the Bears within two yards of their first score.
Another flag on the next snap, this time against Summerville for holding.
As the fourth quarter began, the Bears’ series was riddled with penalties, pushing them back to a third and 18.
Nathaniel Mata picked up a few yards on the down, but the Bears were facing another fourth and long.
Christopher St. John got the call for a field goal attempt. Good. Score: 23-3 with 9:50 to play.
And then a final knock down punch.
The six-foot, eight-inch Ripon Christian quarterback, senior Cade Alger threw a soaring spiral up the left side. On target. Touchdown for a 30-3 lead with 8:44 to play in the game.
Summerville’s defense forced a turnover on downs, getting the ball again with less than three minutes to play.
On what would be their final offensive series of the night, the Bears turned the ball over on downs with 1:18 left in the game.
Ripon Christian was speedy and powerful on both sides of the ball. While they handed the Bears their first loss of the season, Summerville handed the Knights their lowest scoring game of the season.
Summerville is now 1-1 on the season.
The Bears next host Hughson High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7.