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Defense comes through in crunch time for Cougars
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STOCKTON — Weston Ranch High coach Mike Hale wasn’t leaving anything to chance Friday against Bear Creek.

He still had the bitter memory two years ago of losing at Podesto Field in the final seconds on a kickoff return.

“Our defense came through with another strong performance,” said Hales, who praised the bunch for keeping the Bruins in check in the 16-8 non-league victory.

Linebacker Candelario Elizondo had the big play in the final minutes, stripping the ball loose from a Bear Creek ballcarrier at the tail end of a long gain.

Prior to that, defensive back Kenny Williams recovered a fumble.

Weston Ranch (2-1) did cough up the ball in the third-quarter turnover. But Elizondo, Tejpaul Baniniwal, and Tony Taylor came to the rescue, dropping BC for losses on consecutive plays.

This otherwise defensive game kicked off with a bang on offense. On the very first play from scrimmage, Cougar running back John McDonald swept left and found daylight, racing 80 yards for the score.

Antobelly Guzman’s extra-point kick made it 7-0.

Weston Ranch extended the lead to 10-0 thanks to Guzman’s 46-yard field goal.

The Bruins (1-2) scooped up a fumble and nearly scored. Inside the 5, BC quarterback Zach Merseth bowled in from a yard out to close the gap. James Nelson ran in the two-point PAT to make it 10-8.

Late in the first half, the Bruins had a chance to go ahead but WRHS lineback Sean Visperas got a hand on a BC pass at midfield. He reeled in the deflected ball and raced 55 yards for the touchdown, in turn, upping the Cougars’ lead.

Meanwhile, Bruin coach Reggie Camp saw a familiar preseason pattern.

“We again shot ourselves in the foot,” he said. “I’m calling it the BC curse.

“We continue to self destruct.”

Hale wasn’t sure if the first-half lead would hold up in the final two quarters.

“We had to rely on our defense handle things,” Hale said. “Our offense still needs to be efficient. It’s still new to the team.”

McDonald had a game-high 116 yards on 13 carries.