I was pretty nervous going into [it]. But after the first drive my nervousness went away. It made it easier because our offensive line did a great job, and our coaches did a good job preparing us for the game. —Bear River quarterback JarDee Nessen
The Bears shot out of the gate with an early 22-0 lead and beat North Sanpete in the season’s first game, 42-20 over North Sanpete. Bear River made football look easy during the first half, especially on offense, scoring five touchdowns on five possessions. Quarterback JarDee Nessen and running back Jeramie Selman each had three touchdown runs for the Bears.
Friday in Mt. Pleasant the Bears won the toss and elected to kick. After Jared Olsen’s kick the Hawks moved the ball quickly down the field. Finally the Bear River defense settled in at its own 27-yard line where they forced a turnover on downs. From that point, the Bears dominated the first half.
“I was pretty nervous going into [it],” Nessen said. “But after the first drive my nervousness went away. It made it easier because our offensive line did a great job, and our coaches did a good job preparing us for the game.”
On Bear River’s third offensive play from scrimmage Nessen connected down field with Colton Jensen for a 43-yard gain that led to a Nessen touchdown run. Bridger Beus ran the ball in for a two-point conversion.
In the next series Taylor Lund started things off with a 20-yard reception from Nessen followed by 15-plus yard catches by Jensen and Selman. Nessen again capped off the drive with a touchdown run. This time it was McKade Mitton who ran the ball for the two-point conversion.
The Bears weren’t done with their first quarter scoring, and Olsen kicked a perfect onside kick that was recovered exactly ten yards downfield. On the next play Nessen threw a quick hitter to Jensen who ran the ball down to the 2-yard line. Selman punched through the right side of the line for a touchdown and the scoreboard read 22-0.
North Sanpete got on the board early in the second quarter on a pass from Brady Wheeler to Bob Serrano, but the Bears answered with two more touchdowns in the half. Nessen ran 13 yards for his third touchdown, and later Selman scored on an 8-yard run and the Bears were up 35-7.
Behind the highly touted offensive line consisting of Branson Fonnesbeck, Justus Wise, Carson Gibbs, Braden Pugsley, and Parker Lewis the Bears rushed for 231 yards. The Bears had 510 yards of total offense.
“We ran the ball very good with Jeramie,” Nessen said. “Our receivers did a good job blocking, running routes, and catching the football especially.”
Nessen threw for 274 yards, ran for 79 yards, and scored three touchdowns. Selman ran for 154 yards and three trips to the end zone. Jensen had seven receptions for 166 yards.
The Bear defense held North Sanpete to just 291 total yards and caused five turnovers. The Hawks were just 2 of 9 on third downs, but 2 of 3 when they went for it on fourth down. Mitton had 17 tackles from his linebacker position. Lewis was in the quarterback’s face all night and finished the game with three sack assists.
Wheeler rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown, and threw for 68 yards and another score for the Hawks. Spencer Applegarth ran for 137 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. Serrano caught three passes for 41 yards, including North Sanpete's first touchdown of the season.
The second half was a different story for the Bears. They weren’t the same dominant team in the second half that they had been in the first. The Hawks recovered an onside kick to start the half. North Sanpete made it a 20-35 game with about 8 minutes left in the game behind rushing touchdowns from Applegarth and Wheeler.
Jensen had an interception to stop one drive. Mitton recovered a fumble to stall another drive. Preston Shultz grabbed an interception, and Cole Fronk’s interception was the final play of the game.
Selman had his final touchdown of the game, sealing the victory with 52 seconds left, on the biggest play of the game—an 84-yard run.
Overall the Bears had a good opening game. 42 points should be enough to win any game if the defense plays to its capabilities.
“The biggest thing for us to work on is just finishing—finishing drives, and quarters, and games. We’ll just try to keep getting the ball to our playmakers. Giving the ball to Jeramie and throwing it to Jensen and Lund,” Nessen said.
Casey is a husband, father of 3, USU alum and Utah high school sports fan living in Smithfield, UT. Follow him on twitter @caseyzundel and find more of his work at tremontonleader.com.