Bears break free from Cats in finale

Almost recalling the famous Muhammad Ali-over-Sonny Liston 1965 boxing photo, Ignacio’s Dustin Hall celebrates one of his multiple sacks of Dolores quarterback Jalen Balderrama (3) at DHS, with Cesar Corona (77) and Dalton Labarthe (87) coming in to join.
Ignacio’s Lawrence Valdez (12) goes for positive yardage at Dolores.
Having penetrated Dolores’ offensive line, Ignacio’s Dustin Hall (51) flattens Bear quarterback Jalen Balderrama for one of his multiple sacks at DHS.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

IHS’ Hall stars defensively in loss

Caught about as DeMarcus un-a-Ware as a quarterback would ever dread, Jalen Balderrama paid for all his Oct. 30 successes with one vicious, straight-up – and legal – shot from Ignacio’s Dustin Hall.

Already with three sacks of the Dolores senior between halftime and the resounding pop – with 7:31 left in the fourth quarter and reminiscent of former Bobcat Alex Lopez’s leveling of now-junior Tristen Medina late in the 1A Southern Peaks Conference rivals’ 2013 meeting on the same ground – IHS’ senior defensive tackle provided all the boost the Bobcats could have coveted to overcome a 20-0 deficit.

Medina, however, would enjoy an incredible last laugh; recovering a wayward Zach Weinreich backwards lateral on the ensuing play after Hall’s fourth-down hit, he set up a 4-yard Balderrama TD run three snaps later. And only two Ignacio plays after DHS kicked off, Medina intercepted Weinreich to set Dolores up at the IHS 21.

The resulting offensive series failed to produce points, but Medina had virtually predicted the Bears would find the end zone once more for maximum measure on Senior Night at the DHS Coliseum. And after the ’Cats went three-and-out and Colten Smithson punted, Medina pulled in a 22-yard score from Balderrama, and senior Tommy Nelligan nailed the point-after kick with 1:27 left in a 34-0 shutout sewing up both sides’ 2015 seasons.

Lacking two-way regulars Lorenzo Pena and Tyler Beebe, Ignacio (0-9, 0-5 SPC) still managed to stay somewhat close to Dolores (3-6, 1-4) despite a ragged first quarter yielding the Bears’ first 13 points.

Smithson’s first punt was blocked with 7:03 left, and Balderrama then got the scoring started three plays and 1:10 later with a 24-yard keeper. IHS junior Stocker Robbins blocked Nelligan’s PAT try, but on the third play of the Bobcats’ next possession Medina picked Weinreich off and 2:37 later capped an 8-play, 48-yard drive with an 8-yard carry – giving Nelligan, who’d missed a 31-yard field goal ending the game’s initial series, a [converted] chance at redemption.

Trailing by two scores, Ignacio then went three-and-out with freshman Isaiah Jacket given a quick stint under center. But after Smithson punted, Hall’s first – of four total – sack cost Balderrama 14 yards and killed off DHS’ maiden second-quarter drive. But in true rivalry fashion, Bear senior Josh McCoy responded in kind and sacked Weinreich for an 8-yard loss back to the Dolores 32 to halt IHS’ first promising push after seven snaps.

And Dolores capitalized, with sophomore Talon Zwicker out-leaping freshman Lawrence Valdez to snare a 13-yard Balderrama TD toss on fourth-and-goal, finishing a 12-play, 68-yard march which sapped an important 6:18 off the clock and left Ignacio with only 58 seconds with which to work before intermission.

But they were productive, and after catching an 8-yarder from Weinreich on second down, Valdez flung an option pass to Robbins for a 17-yard gain down to the Bear 30 just before the buzzer sounded. And after a few minutes to regroup and reheat, then resume work at their own 33 after receiving the second-half kickoff.

Aided by a recovery of a muffed Smithson punt at the DHS 45, the Cats sustained their best surge all the way down to the 25 before Weinreich was stopped on its eleventh play for no gain on fourth down and the Bears took over with 8:15 left in the third.

IHS did give themselves one final attempt at avoiding being bageled when Timmy Plehinger put enough pressure on Balderrama to force a pass intercepted by Smithson for a touchback three plays after Medina’s latter INT. But three plays and a penalty later the Bobcats were bogged down at their own 14, Smithson then punted for the sixth and last time, and the Bears set up shop at the Ignacio 47 with 2:39 left in the clash.

Unofficially, Weinreich finished with 74 yards on 8-of-17 passing, but only two yards rushing on 11 tries. Junior Ethan Appenzeller gained 22 yards on five carries, but Valdez (5-32 receiving) was held to minus-8 on five. Robbins finished with two catches for 40 yards, Plehinger one for 12, senior Austin McCaw one for seven and Appenzeller one for one.

Due to large discrepancies between media- and team-tracked statistics – for example, this writer had Balderrama with 76 yards on 19 carries, the Bears reported 141 on 17 – Dolores’ individual totals will unfortunately not be included in this account.

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