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Bears beaten by Honkers in overtime
A steady drizzle had fallen at Greg Lemaster Stadium in Arbuckle the whole game making things difficult for both squads.
All 48 minutes had passed with neither team being able to put points on the board.
With the ball as slick as a greased pigskin, Honkers holder Ulises Esparza took the snap and put it down, and kicker Daniel Macias' 27-yard field goal in overtime sent the Willows High football team into tonight's Division III championship with a 3-0 win over previously undefeated Pierce.
"I knew the ball was in the middle (of the field) so it was not a long field goal," said Macias. "As soon as I made contact I knew I was going to hit it."
Macias would not have been kicking if not for his defensive play when Pierce got the ball first to begin overtime.
Starting from the 10-yard line, Andy Corona went up the middle for 4 yards, and a pass from Nate Smith to Hayden Kalfsbeek gave the Bears a third-and-goal from the 1. Corona was stuffed for no gain, and Adolfo Ramirez tried the left side on fourth down.
As Macias wrapped up his legs, Ramirez lunged forward and the hometown crown did its best to persuade the official that he had scored the go-ahead TD. Instead the official ruled that Ramirez's knee had touched before the ball broke the plane of the goalline, giving the Honkers their four turns to score.
The Bears' defense stopped Geoffrey Bateman twice and Noah Enns once, to set up the field-goal attempt.
Pierce coach Scott Burnum couldn't downplay how hard the Bears took the loss, saying, "It was pretty devastating for them all. You couldn't say anything at that point. I've never seen so many tears fall in a locker room from a whole team."
Of the overtime possession, the coach said, "We felt we were in the end zone a couple of times and that we could put our defense out on the field, which is our strength."
Pierce turned the ball over four times in the first half and the Honkers once, with Enns, Garrett Enos and Bateman recovering fumbles for the Honkers, and Enos intercepted a pass batted up in the air at the line of scrimmage.
Preston Smith covered a loose ball for the Bears.
The Honkers had the best chance of scoring in the waning seconds of the first half, but they were unable to get up to the line of scrimmage fast enough for Macias to attempt a field goal.
Pierce looked like they were in business early in the fourth period when they moved the ball all the way down to the Willows 17, but a false start moved them back five yards and a pass fell incomplete to turn the ball over on downs.
On their next series, they again got as far as the 26-yard line, but a 43-yard field goal attempt was no good.
The Honkers picked up just 66 yards rushing, wit Kyle Wycoff leading the way with 30 yards on his eight carries. Bateman ran 11 times for 22 yards and Chris Walter's lone run netted 17 yards.
Esparza was 5 of 10 passing for 53 yards.
Corona was the Bears' workhorse, getting the call 28 times and rushing for 152 yards, as Pierce gained 207 on the ground.
Ramirez tacked on 30 yards in eight attempts, Joey Hernandez ran four times for 17 yards and Nate Smith picked up 13 on his carry.
Smith's 11 tackles led the Pierce defensive stand, and Joe Howard was right behind him with 10.
Joey Perry's 12 takedowns anchored the Willows defense, with Bateman supplying 10.
Burnum summed up the season saying, "Not too many teams go undefeated. It was a great year."
The Honkers kick off with Hamilton at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Hamilton City.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.