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Pierce gets payback
Bears top Live Oak on last-minute touchdown
The ending was almost identical to last year's contest, only this time Live Oak High left a little too much time on the clock. Just like last season's 26-21 victory in Arbuckle, the Lions marched down the field when it needed to and scored the go-ahead touchdown with just minutes left to play.
But this is a different year and a different Pierce team.
Trailing by one with less than 5 minutes left to play, the Bears answered the call by marching straight down the field to score the game-winning touchdown with only a minute left on the clock in a thrilling 20-13 Sacramento Valley League victory in Live Oak Friday night.
The win improves the Bears to 6-3 on the season and to 4-1 in SVL play with a week remaining. A victory in the season finale against Willows would ensure Pierce atleast a share of the league title, a remarkable turnaround for a team that finished 0-10 last year.
"I'm pretty thrilled with these kids — I couldn't be happier," a jubilant Pierce coach Roy Perkins said after the game. "The chips were down, but they battled, and that's all a coach can ask for."
The fourth-quarter drama began with 4:44 left to play and the Bears trailing 13-12.
Pierce quarterback Jake Driver, who completed just 2-of-12 attempts heading into the final drive, completed his two biggest throws of the game by hitting Ricky Herrera for a gain of 13 to begin the march before hooking up with Mike Villanueva for a clutch 14-yard gain on a third-and-6.
Rudy Godinez found the end zone from 5-yards out a few plays later to cap a big second half comeback for the Bears.
"We've already came back several times, so we've kinda been a second-half team all year," Perkins said. "Winning league is right in front of them. They weren't going to loose this game."
After failing to move the ball for the entire third period, the Lions went to work when they needed to by embarking on a eight-play, 76-yard march to pay-dirt to take the fourth-quarter lead.
The Lions also made some clutch plays on the drive with Miguel Alejo hitting Ish Gardon for a 15-yard touchdown on fourth-and-5. Xavier Lopez added the point after kick to give Live Oak the lead.
Live Oak took a 6-0 halftime lead after a penalty filled opening two quarters. Pierce was flagged seven times for 55 yards in the half while the Lions saw 67 yards marched off for their seven infractions.
The only score came on a 44-yard touchdown pass from running back Tony Montes to Gardon early on the second period. It was Montes' only touch from scrimmage in the game as he played with a heavily bandaged left leg.
Things changed in the second half as Pierce went to its power running game to control the second half with 155 yards on the ground. Jaime Moreno scored a pair of short touchdown runs in the key third period in which Live Oak had the ball for all of 3 minutes.
"Its kind of difficult when your defense is on the field that long," Live Oak coach Dan Johnson said. "When you don't sustain any offense, it makes it tough."