Bears rout Lee Williams, stay unbeaten without QB Gonzales
Bears improve to 5-0 for first time in 32 years
KINGMAN — Minus suspended starting quarterback Austin Gonzales, the Bradshaw Mountain football team dug deep defensively on Friday night, crushing Lee Williams, 44-14, to start a season at 5-0 for the first time since 1986.
The Bears, who scored 37 unanswered points from early in the second quarter and into the fourth quarter to erase a 14-7 deficit, have now won nine of their last 10 games dating back to last season, one which they started at 0-5.
In their 4A Grand Canyon region opener on Lee Williams’ homecoming at Volunteer Stadium, the 2018 Bears benefited from three big plays in the first half, including Victor Arenas’ 99-yard return for touchdown to open the game and two rushing TDs after fumble recoveries deep in Vols territory.
Bears backup QB Josh Grant unofficially completed 4 of 14 passes for 49 yards and a TD, and no interceptions. He rushed for 96 yards and two TDs.
“I’m very pleased, and I’m grateful we got Josh,” said Bears coach Chuck Moller, crediting his coaching staff for their preparation. “He’s green at some things, but he grew up [Friday]. Two days before a game you find out you’re starting, you need to get the jitters out.”
DEFENSE WINS IT
Bradshaw Mountain’s defense forced five turnovers, scoring TDs on three of them, and registered five sacks. Linebacker Noah Shaver had two sacks and an interception return for TD to lead the unit. Luke Huenemeyer followed with an interception and a fumble recovery. Connor Scott had 2-1/2 sacks.
“We made some adjustments,” Moller said. “They had a split-back veer. It’s one of those offenses where you have to be disciplined, and the coaches coached up our guys.”
The Bears unofficially had only 39 total yards in the first half, all on the ground, while Lee Williams racked up 214 total yards. But the second half was a different story, as Bradshaw Mountain outgained the Vols 300 yards to 63 yards, mostly on the ground. The Bears had no turnovers.
Early in the third quarter, Logan Brannan ran 42 yards to set up Grant’s 5-yard TD run. It was Grant’s second TD of the evening, handing the visitors a 25-15 lead.
Noah Shaver subsequently hauled in a 25-yard interception return for touchdown for the Bears, their third turnover for TD in the contest. The two-point conversion failed, but Bradshaw Mountain went ahead, 31-14. Anthony Mata later registered a rushing TD to put the game out of reach after an extra point, 38-14.
Luke Huenemeyer’s interception to open the fourth quarter led to a long drive, but no scoring for Bradshaw Mountain. However, Arenas had a 10-yard TD reception with 4:07 left in regulation to add more icing on the cake for the eventual 44-14 final. Arenas also recovered a fumble.
The Bears trailed 14-7 with 11:22 left in the second quarter before scoring two TDs to gain momentum.
Grant started at QB in place of Gonzales, who didn’t play Friday due to an undisclosed violation of team rules and school policy. Moller didn’t give a timeframe for Gonzales’ return to the team.
Grant scored on a 22-yard TD run after the Vols’ first fumble early in the second quarter to pull the visitors within one of a tie at 14-13. Then, with some 3 minutes left in the second quarter, Bradshaw Mountain recovered another Vols fumble deep in their own territory, at the 11. Three plays later, Anthony Mata reached pay dirt from 3 yards out to regain the lead for the Bears.
Bradshaw Mountain missed an extra point and a 2-point conversion after each of those scoring runs, respectively, and yet the Bears still carried a 19-14 lead into halftime.
Defensively for the Bears, Shaver intercepted Vols QB Enzo Moreno at the 7-minute mark of the first quarter, but a facemask penalty reversed the turnover and Lee Williams’ Cameron Ott scored on a 5-yard TD run to knot it at 7-7 with 6:42 on the clock.
On the injury front, Bears star defender Cameron Harris was injured and carried off the field late in the second quarter with an injured leg. His status wasn’t immediately known after the game. Toward the end of the first half, Lee Williams QB Moreno suffered what appeared to be a non-serious neck/head injury and couldn’t finish the game, giving way to Kade Juelfs and, later, A.J. Herrera.
Bradshaw Mountain (1-0 Grand Canyon) continues region play when it visits unbeaten Coconino (4-0 overall, 1-0 region) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at Cromer Stadium in Flagstaff.
Lee Williams (2-3, 0-1) travels to Cottonwood to face Mingus (3-2, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Sept. 21.
Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.