SHINGLE SPRINGS — Host Ponderosa’s hopes to ride into league play next week undefeated were dashed Friday as Rio Linda converted a 34-yard field goal that barely cleared the cross bar — leveling a difficult 15-13 setback to the Bruins on Homecoming.
Ponderosa had gone in front 13-12 after covering 80 yards in only three plays, highlighted by a 55-yard scamper from Brett Jonutz and Ralph Raetz’ 25-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Jake Bist.
The Bruins’ slim advantage seemed destined to hold but the Knights had other ideas and moved the ball to the Ponderosa 17 over the final minute of the game to set up a field goal attempt.
The wobbly, knuckleball kick sliced through the autumn air and fell just over the crossbar for Rio Linda as the Bruins watched victory turn into a difficult defeat.
“This was a hard loss for all of us tonight. What we can take away from this defeat is the fact that the team gave a tremendous effort, fought hard and our entire staff is proud of this group of players,” Ponderosa coach Jason Tenner said.
Both the Bruins and Knights battled to a scoreless deadlock for the first two quarters of the game but that changed in the third period of play as Rio Linda, stifled by the tenacious Ponderosa defense of Jeff Camilli, Curtis Catron, Jeff Martin, Christian Canepa, Jonutz, Darren Brundage and a host of other Bruins, broke through for a touchdown and 6-0 lead.
The Bruin offense quickly answered as Bist (13-of-19, 164 yards) engineered a 63-yard drive that culminated in a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Camilli and 7-6 advantage after the extra point from Curtis Goldsmith.
Rio Linda took the lead back at 12-7 with a little over nine minutes to go in the game before the Bruins went back on top on the Bist-Raetz hookup.
Ponderosa looks to rebound Saturday when it plays its first Delta River League game at Jesuit.