Similar to bailing water out of a boat that has a hole in it, the Tooele defense couldn’t slow down the Bear River passing game long enough for the Buffalo offense to play catch-up as it fell 62-48 to the Bears Friday night in Tooele.
Tooele’s rush game picked up 327 yards as the offense did its part in this high-scoring affair, but the Bear River passing game bested Tooele with 497 yards in the air thrown by JarDee Nessen in the Bears victory.
This game was an offense-lovers feast that combined a total of 110 points on the scoreboard and more than 1,100 yards for both teams put together. Tooele came out on the losing end even with Jake Brady and Adam Pace scoring three touchdowns each. Stratton Atherley led Tooele in rushing yards with 132 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort.
“Our offense has been a positive for us and our offensive line is doing a good job,” said Tooele coach Kyle Brady. “You also have to give it to Bear River for having a great passing game and spreading out our defense so that they could find their open receivers.”
Bear River scored touchdowns on all six of their possessions in the opening half thanks in large part to Nessen and his passing game. Nessen scored the first two touchdowns of the game to give the Bears a 13-0 lead. Nessen found Colton Jensen for the first of seven touchdown passes and then ran for the second touchdown with 6:14 left in the first quarter.
Falling behind early didn’t discourage Tooele as its offense went to work on the next possession. Ryan Brady broke off a 78-yard rush on the opening play and Pace finished off the drive from 1 yard out to get the Buffaloes within 13-7 with 5:35 left in the first.
Nessen countered with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Cole Fronk to boost the Bear River lead back up to 20-7 with 2:24 left in the first. As good as the Bear River passing game was, the Tooele running game was almost matching them drive for drive.
On the next Tooele drive, Atherley broke loose for a 35-yard rush that included a personal foul on Bear River to get the Buffaloes moving the ball. Atherley finished off the drive with a well-executed reverse that fooled Bear River for a 29-yard touchdown run to get within 20-13 at the beginning of the second quarter.
After another touchdown pass from Nessen to Brady Parker made the score 26-13, Tooele came right back undeterred by the offensive onslaught of Bear River. Atherley took the ensuing kickoff all the way down to the Bear River 5-yard line where Pace finished off the drive with a 5-yard rush to get back within 26-20 with 8:33 left in the half.
Two plays later, Nessen boosted the score back to 34-20 with a 71-yard touchdown pass to Jensen but Tooele again responded. Jake Brady earned a rush of 14 yards and Atherley had a gain of 28 yards to get Tooele moving down the field. Brady finished off the drive by faking a hand-off and keeping the ball for a 5-yard touchdown to get within 34-27 with 3:13 left in the half.
Just over 3 minutes was just enough for Bear River to add another Nessen touchdown pass to Jensen to make the score 41-27 at the half.
Bear River picked up its game in the second half right where it left off in the first as Taylor Lund scored a 9-yard rushing touchdown for a 47-27 lead with 8:41 left in the third quarter.
Tooele’s offense didn’t slow down either as Jake Brady hit Lawson Ross for a 13-yard gain to keep the drive alive and Pace ran in an 8-yard touchdown to get the Buffaloes started in the second half and get within 47-34.
Tooele’s defense stepped up with their first stop of the game, forcing Bear River to a 3-and-out and a punt and the Buffaloes took advantage of their chance to make the game closer. With the ball, Tooele’s Jake Brady hit Ryan Brady for 10 yards and Atherley ran for 21 to get deep into Bear River territory. Jake Brady finished off the drive with a 1-yard QB sneak to get within 47-41 with 1:29 left in the third.
Bear River didn’t make a habit of getting stopped as it came right back with a Nessen touchdown pass for 10 yards to Fronk to extend their lead out to 54-41.
Jake Brady hit Ross with a pass for 35 yards on the following drive and Pace added a run of 18 yards to drive the Buffaloes. Brady finished off the drive with a QB sneak of 3 yards to get Tooele within 54-48. Unfortunately, that would be the final points Tooele would score. Bear River added an insurance touchdown late in the fourth to go up 62-48, which turned out to be the ending score.
Tooele will be at home Friday when it hosts Park City in its homecoming game at 7 p.m.