The Summerville Bears varsity football team wasn’t hoping to start the 2019 season off with a loss at home to the Mariposa County Grizzlies, but showed hundreds who attended Friday night’s game at Thorsted Field in Tuolumne that they can never be counted out until the final second ticks off the clock.

Summerville trailed the Mariposa County 23-14 at the half, which jumped to 30-14 near the end of the third quarter, but the Bears then quickly cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 6 points and give themselves a chance at the victory in the final minutes.

“As few of our roster who have taken varsity snaps, for them to respond like that when most kids would think it’s over, shows they have some fight in them,” said Summerville football head coach Sean Leveroos after the game.

Mariposa County received the kickoff to start the game and looked to strike early with a deep pass that was caught by a Grizzlies’ player at about the Bears’ 40, but a holding penalty cancelled the completion and brought the ball back to their own 14.

The Bears’ defense had them punting the ball three plays later.

A penalty on the Grizzlies and a handoff to Summerville’s quarterback Jaden Brocchini brought the Bears to about the 50 yard line, before 12-yard sack pushed them back and ultimately led to them punting.

Summerville put up the first points of the game after a sack to Mariposa County’s quarterback caused a fumble that was scooped up by the Bears’ Nick Veach, who ran about 20 yards into the end zone.

The extra point was good and the Bears took the 7-0 lead with 7:40 to go in the first quarter.

Mariposa County answered on the next drive with a 25-yard field goal to make the score 7-3 with 4:25 lft in the first.

Not to be outdone, the Bears got the ball back and scored again in quick fashion when Brocchini on third down found a hole in the defense and sprinted 73 yards for another touchdown.

The point after was good, giving Summerville the 14-3 lead with 2:48 left in the first.

The first quarter came to an end with Grizzlies again threatening to put more points on the board, but the Bears’ defense dashed their hopes and stopped them on fourth down at the Summerville 8.

However, the rest of the second quarter didn’t go as well for Summerville on either side of the ball.

Summerville’s offense was unable to put up any more points throughout the remainder of the half, while Mariposa County picked up three touchdowns in the final seven minutes and went to the locker room with a 23-14 lead over the home team.

The Bears’ defense had a tough time stopping Mariposa County’s air attack. All three of the Grizzlies’ touchdowns were on completions by Green.

Both teams were also dogged by penalties throughout the first half that negated several big plays on offense.

One of those missed opportunities for the Bears was a roughly 10-yard pass from Brocchini up the middle to Joshua Caldera, who powered his way through Mariposa County defenders to about the Grizzlies’ 20.

The Bears received the kickoff and started from their own 14.

Several carries by Brocchini and Veach picked up enough yards for a first down, and Veach gained another 8 yards on a run after an incomplete pass, but Summerville ultimately was forced to punt on fourth down.

Both teams went three and out on their next two drives before the Grizzlies struck again with a big punt return that started them on about the Bears’ 35.

The Grizzlies scored another touchdown on 30-yard run to the outside. They got the point after and brought their lead to 30-14 with 2:45 left in the third quarter.

Summerville had enough after that and started to put together a comeback.

A keeper by Brocchini brought Summerville to their own 49 yard line after the kickoff from the Grizzlies.

Summerville receiver Daniel Gregston caught a pass from Brocchini on a slant route and left the Mariposa County defensive backs in his dust for a 56-yard touchdown reception on the very next play.

The kick was good and Summerville cut their deficit to 9 points, 30-21, with 1:43 to go in the third quarter.

Mariposa County fumbled on their next possession and Summerville began the fourth quarter with the ball at the Grizzlies’ 33.

The Bears picked up a first down on a 12-yard pass by Brocchini to Gregston.

Summerville Kicker Ian Henley booted a 30-yard field goal that sailed through the uprights and cut Mariposa County’s lead to 30-24 with 9:00 left in the game.

The two teams battled back and forth for the remaining minutes, but an interception by Mariposa County seconds before the two-minute warning sealed it for the Grizzlies.

The Bears will have the next week to evaluate as they prepare to face the Galt High School Warriors at 7 p.m. Friday in Galt.

“We’ll be in watching film early tomorrow morning and learning what the film provides us,” Leveroos said. “That’s all we can do is learn.”

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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