The ball took a Calaveras bounce towards the Bears’ endzone as play began Friday night in Tuolumne.
It was homecoming. The time of year when kickoff happens after sundown. The temperatures dip into the 50s. And Mother Lode League wins are at a premium.
Calaveras had one.
Summerville needed one.
As play started, Summerville got first possession, picking up a fourth down conversion. They were hoping for a second before a false start stalled the drive and forced a kicked with less than four minutes off the game clock.
Calaveras took over near midfield.
The Bears forced a quick three and out and took over after a seven-yard blooper punt took a backwards bounce.
Bears at midfield. Another chance early in the first quarter. They chewed about five minutes off the clock before turning it over on downs near the Calaveras 15.
At the end of the first quarter the game had been a tangle of defensive stops.
The Bears had regained possession as play resumed in the second. Second and nine on their own 23. Then a three and out. Another Calaveras possession near midfield.
Then Calaveras’ Zach Nordahl started to find his stride. Despite one tackle for a loss on the series, he led the offense to the five yard line with 7:36 to go in the first half.
First and goal. Logan Weatherby carried and was brought down by a crowd of Bears shy of the goal line. Second and three. Jarrod Biondi slipped up the middle and gave Calaveras their first points. A perfect PAT and Calaveras took the 7-0 lead.
Summerville’s Nicholas Veach put some spark into the Bears’ offense on the next series, picking up a first down on a downhill run. But a series of incomplete passes forced the punt with six to go in the half.
And the defensive battle continued. A Calaveras three and out.
Until Brocchini found Litzler for what looked to be the play of the game. An illegal use of the hands penalty would bring it back 15 yard from the spot of the foul. Still enough for a first down, but deflating for the offense.
Summerville’s Litzler took over under center in the next series and bullied his way to a fresh set of down near the Calaveras 30.
Another first down and the Bears were knocking on the door of their first points of the night. Half a minute to go in the half. Brocchini drops back. Calaveras’ Arbuckle breaks up the pass. Bears reset. A nifty reverse confused the Calaveras defense. Bears touchdown. At the half, 7-7.
The Bears started the second half with two defensive penalties and Calaveras started their drive on their own 30.
The Summerville defense picked up where they left off, forcing Calaveras to grind it out on the ground.
And grind they did, into Bears territory, shaving six minutes off the clock and an eventual first and goal at the one yard line. With four to go in the third, another Calaveras touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
Summerville was forced to punt after getting pinned near their endzone. Calaveras took over at midfield with 2:51 left in the third.
The speedy Calaveras senior Biondi had a nice chunk run deleted by a Calaveras penalty. But Arbuckle earned those yards back and then some on the next two plays, setting up his offense at the Bears’ seven yard line with a minute left in the third. Quarterback Nordahl got in on the scoring action with a nifty keeper, giving Calaveras a 21-7 lead.
The Bears were forced to punt away a minute into the final quarter thanks to a surging Calaveras defense that applied heavy quarterback pressure.
The Bears responded, forcing a turnover on downs with less than 10 to go in the game. Another scoring chance and plenty of time left to pull even.
The Bears’ Veach moved the ball into Calaveras territory within seconds as the Summerville offense sped up their play from the line. Then a fourth and eight. Brocchini from the shotgun, a shovel pass to Litzler who scouted for options before keeping the ball and rumbling up the field shy of a first down. Calaveras ball on their own 21 yard line. Five minutes to go. Clock munching time for Calaveras.
A minute and a half later and the Bears had possession at the Calaveras 32. A fourth and six. Brocchiini to Mata. Complete at the five yard line. First and goal. A minute and change to play. Litzler gets the call at quarterback, trundles to the one. Another Calaveras goalline stop.Time out for Summerville. A hurry-up play from the line and a touchdown by Litzler. The PAT made it 14-21 with 1:08 to go.
Calaveras sniffed out the on-side kick attempt and took over at mid-field. And so it would end. A Calaveras first down and a knee.
Summerville is now 0-2 in league play and 2-5 overall. Calaveras picked up their second league win for a 2-0 MLL record. They’re 4-3 overall.
Next Friday Summerville will host Bret Harte, and Calaveras is on the road at Argonaut. Both games start at 7 p.m.