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Marysville holds off Bear River
Cullen Meyer looked at his stopwatch, glanced up at the scoreboard and then approached the sideline ref. "Do we have to get a first down?" he asked.
No, the Indians didn't. And good thing, the coach and Marysville High wanted nothing more to do with Bear River.
After capturing all the momentum in the first half by taking a 13-0 lead into the locker room, the Bruins marched back in the final quarter to score twice. But a game-saving tackle made sure of Marysville's 13-12 home victory, boosting the Indians into the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.
With 1:46 remaining in the game and down by one, the Bruins elected to go for the two-point conversion.
Bruins quarterback James Harris rolled out of the pocket looking for a receiver — nothing. So he ran. He ran right into Michael Barabin.
It was the only sack the Indians recorded all night.
"It was probably the greatest tackle I've ever made," the senior linebacker said.
A failed onside kick and three plays to run out the clock, and the Indians (8-3) realized they could play with the big boys after being bumped up a division from last season.
Credit the offensive line who continually faced 10 to 11 players in the box yet still managed running room for the 1-2 punch of Barabin and sophomore Cole Hannum.
It took a bit, but the ground game became almost unstoppable in the second quarter.
With Bear River approaching Marysville's red zone, a halfback-toss was fumbled and Justin Nygard recovered for the Indians.
Then came Hannum. Near midfield Hannum bulldozed two defenders on an 11-yard gain and the pendulum tipped.
Barabin than dashed for a 13-yard gain, tack on a 15-yard Bear River penalty and the Indians were deep into Bruins territory for the first time in the contest.
Again, Hannum rushed 14 and Barabin then ran for 11. Two plays later, Barabin punched in the score from the 6-yard line.
After forcing the Bruins to turn the ball over on downs, Marysville's ensuing possession was highlighted by Steven Arostegui's 32-yard pass to Zac Herrington, which put the Indians at the 1. Arostegui scored on the quarterback sneak to put the Indians up 13-0.
Barabin complied an even 100 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, while Hannum, a 6-foot-2 downhill runner, added 70 yards on 13 rushes.
Hannum also made a diving defensive deflection in the third quarter to break-up a pass on fourth-and-goal, forcing Bear River to turn the ball over on downs, which the Bruins did four times on the night.
Bear River found life in the fourth quarter when Sam Houston scored from one yard out.
Marysville then went three-and-out and was forced to punt from its own red zone, giving the Bruins good field position.
Bear River marched 46 yards before Houston scored from inches out on fourth-and-goal.
But when the team went for two, Meyer was confident.
"I knew the defense had one last play in them," he said.
He had one word for his rushing duo.
"Amazing," he smiled.