The Pierce Bears varsity football team walked away with a win on homecoming night, riding a stifling defense to overcome the visiting University Prep Panthers 20-7.
The Bears defense pitched a shutout, but the Panthers nevertheless found their way onto the scoreboard. University Prep actually struck first, intercepting Pierce quarterback Dutch Kalfsbeek on the Bears’ opening drive. U Prep free safety Nate Sowles returned the interception 75 yards for a touchdown to put Pierce in an early 7-0 hole.
The Bears offense bounced back, and had a little help in doing so from place kicker Jose Corona.
Corona was perfect on two extra points and two field goals on the night, converting one from more than 40 yards, head coach Don Friel said. His two field goals came in the first half, and sent Pierce into the locker room with a 13-7 lead. Pierce would score once more in the third quarter to close out the scoring.
“I think we played better, and we didn’t have as many mistakes as the week before,” Friel said. “Our offensive line blocked a little better, our backs ran a little harder. The only points we gave up were on the interception returned for a touchdown, so our defense played pretty well.”
The Bears defense surrendered 232 total yards in the game, with 194 yards coming on the ground. The Panthers averaged 4.7 yards per carry, with longest plays coming on rushes of 20, 31, and 20 yards.
When factoring out those three long runs by University Prep’s Chris Kunz, Nate Sowles, and Nathan Humer, the Panthers’ yard-per-carry average dropped to about 3.3 yards per carry. Kunz and Sowles each had 14 carries for the Panthers, for 70 and 67 yards, respectively. Humer finished with 10 carries for 49 yards.
On defense, Angel Hernadez led the Bears in tackles with 12, while Diego Vasquez and Cole Travis both intercepted Sowles, who finished 3 for 12 for 38 yards.
“Having Angel Hernandez back really helped us on defense,” Friel said. “He never leaves the field.”
Hernandez missed the Bears’ game against East Nicolaus last week after being ejected from the Rice Bowl on Pierce’s first offensive play from scrimmage.
On offense, the Bears were carried by Raphael Delgado, who finished with 113 yards and a touchdown. Sergio Saavedra chipped in with 82 yards, and Levi Kalfsbeek had the Bears’ other touchdown.
Next up for the Pierce (3-2) is Durham (3-1), which beat Mt. Shasta last week 21-12. The Bears host the Trojans at 7:00 PM on Friday.