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Bears blow past Gators

Bears blow past Gators
Members of a tenacious Bear defense take down a Gator ball carrier. La Vernia defeated Grulla last Thursday night in Kingsville during the first round of the playoffs.

By Jeff Towns

LVN Sports Contributor

Grulla 20

La Vernia 60

They made it look easy last Friday night at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, as the La Vernia Bears hammered the Grulla Gators for a 60-20 bi-district football playoff win.

La Vernia’s 2014 playoff debut started with the Bear defense taking the field after the kickoff. The Gators were denied a first down and forced to punt. La Vernia’s offense then moved the ball effectively down the field, with carries by Ethan Dennis, Tristan Summy, and Matthew Montgomery, resulting in a touchdown run by Dennis. With 8:13 left in the quarter, the Bears were up 6-0.

The next series was a showcase of La Vernia’s defensive prowess, with tackles by Colton Kubena and Koby Bullard. The Gators were forced to punt, but the loose ball touched a La Vernia player, resulting in a turnover for the Gators. Eager to rectify the possession change, the Bear defense shut down the Gators with huge tackles by Noah McMeans, Connor Towns, Bullard, and Kubena.

The Bear offense assumed control of the ball after a failed field-goal attempt by the Gators. The first Colby Skelton pass attempt of the series resulted in a 75-yard catch and run by Rusty Story for another La Vernia touchdown. The Bears led 12-0 with 4:23 left in the quarter.

The Gators began their next possession at their own 18-yard line, and Grulla was once again unable to move the ball past the Bears’ defensive line. The Gators punted the ball, and the La Vernia offense went back to work.

The offensive series led by Skelton included consecutive first-down completions to Noah Wells, Colton Parrish, and McMeans. The drive was later capped off by a 25-yard touchdown run from Dennis. Gianni Avril kicked the extra point, and the Bears ended the first quarter with a 19-0 lead over the Gators.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Gator returner was tackled by Summy and Kubena on the 20-yard line. The start of the second quarter featured more impressive defensive play with tackles by Zach Beach, Matthew Montgomery, Esteban Vijil, Christian Bruce, and Tristan Gardner. Grulla was forced to punt the ball, and Justus Parker picked it up on the 42-yard line. A 35-yard pass and touchdown run from Skelton to Story quickly made it a 26-0 game.

The momentum continued for La Vernia, as the Bears forced a fumble on the kickoff, and recovered it at the Gators’ 30-yard line. Skelton went back to the air and hit Nick Simpson for 30 yards and another Bear touchdown. Avril’s extra point was good, and the score stood at 33-0 with 3:15 left in the second.

The Gators’ offensive attempts to move the ball remained unsuccessful, with tackles by McMeans and Gardner. Kubena then forced a fumble, and the Bears recovered the ball on the 7-yard line.

The Bears’ next offensive series was highlighted by a touchdown pass from Skelton to McMeans. The extra point was good, and the score was 40--0 with 1:35 left in the half.

La Vernia’s kickoff to Grulla ended at the 30-yard line, as Summy made the stop. Beach then forced another Gator fumble, and Kubena was on it for the recovery. Consecutive first downs from Parker and Story kept the ball in La Vernia’s hands until halftime.

At the beginning of the third quarter, the Gator kickoff was picked up at the La Vernia 39-yard line by Reagan Tucker. The Bears were unable to secure a first down, though, and eventually punted the ball.

The Gators’ next offensive series resulted in a touchdown, despite some outstanding tackles from Cody Martinez, Montgomery, and McMeans. With 6:58 to play in the third, the score stood at 40-7.

Parrish returned the ensuing kickoff to the 50-yard line. Ricky Utt came in to run the offense at quarterback, and the Bears effectively moved the ball downfield with carries by Dennis and Tucker. A completed pass from Utt to Story and a carry from Tucker took the ball to the 1-yard line. Utt then ran the ball through for a Bear score with 1:03 left in the third. The score was 46--7.

The Gators picked up the ball at the 35-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, but quickly gave it back to La Vernia, as Hunter Dennehy recovered a fumble and ran it down to the 1-yard line. Tucker then took it into the end zone for another Bear touchdown, making the score 53-7 after the Avril extra point.

There were just two seconds left in the third when the Bears kicked off to the Gators. Muehe made the tackle at the Gator 35-yard line. Defensive tackles were made by Ryan Rocha and Trace Venske on the drive, but the Gators scored to make it a 53-14 game with 9:45 left to play.

The Bears weren’t quite finished, though, and wasted no time, as Tucker sprang loose on a 70-yard running play for one final La Vernia touchdown. The extra point was good, and the score was 60-14 with 9:26 to play in the fourth.

The rest of the quarter was a back-and-forth struggle between the Bears and Gators. The Gators eventually scored another touchdown with 20 seconds left to play, and made the final score 60-20.

The Bears will now advance to the area championship round, where they will face the Waco Robinson Rockets. The game will be played this Friday, Nov. 21, in the Kelly Reeves Complex in Round Rock. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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