Entering Friday night’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship game, Bear River junior quarterback Jason Voter had been largely overshadowed by his big brother.
Through 12 games, John Voter III, a bruising 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior running back-linebacker, had been the Bruins’ go-to guy in rushing for 15 touchdowns, catching five touchdown passes and scoring four defensive touchdowns.
But against Pioneer Valley League rival Colfax at Lodi’s Grape Bowl, the younger Voter – all 143 pounds of him – stepped up and played the hero’s role. He threw three touchdown passes and rushed for another in leading the top-seeded Bruins (11-2) to a 28-17 win over the second-seeeded Falcons (8-5).
It was Bear River’s second section title for longtime co-coaches Terry Logue and Scott Savoie and the first since the Bruins topped Golden Sierra 3-0 in overtime for the 1994 D-III championship.
Voter threw touchdown passes of 30 yards to Jason O’Lena, 10 yards to Dave Mastrella and 6 yards to Kyle Uclary and rushed 3 yards for a touchdown in rallying the Bruins from a 10-0 deficit in the first quarter.
Voter had 749 passing yards and six touchdowns in 12 games entering the final. He hadn’t rushed for a touchdown, usually leaving that hard-nosed work to his brother.
It was the second time this season Bear River beat Colfax. The Bruins topped the Falcons 21-20 during the PVL season in finishing second to Placer, a bigger school that lost in the first round of the D-III playoffs.
Bear River reached the final by topping Orestimba 49-25 and Hughson 37-14. Colfax reached the title game after topping Summerville 42-35 and Mariposa County 28-21.
No. 1 Folsom 56, No. 12 Monterey Trail 14 in Folsom – Jake Browning broke his own state single-season touchdown record in throwing six scoring passes, including four to favorite receiver Cole Thompson, as the Bulldogs (13-0) advanced to their fifth consecutive section championship game by downing the Mustangs (8-5). Folsom will play Tracy for the D-I title Saturday at Sacramento State.
With 76 touchdown passes, Browning surpassed his own single-season state record of 75set last season. With 214 career touchdown passes, the senior is five touchdowns from tying the national career touchdown record of 219 set by Maty Mauk of Kenton-Ohio in 2011.
Thompson now has a state-leading 29 touchdown catches.
Folsom is 41-2 over the last three years. Both losses were to De La Salle of Concord in the CIF Northern California Regional championship games. The Bulldogs won section titles at D-II in 2010 and 2012 and were runners-up to Vacaville in 2011. They won the D-I title last season.
No. 7 Tracy 27, No. 3 Granite Bay 21 (OT) in Granite Bay – Josh Clark intercepted Justin Yeaton on the first play from scrimmage after the Bulldogs (10-3) had punched in the go-ahead touchdown on their first overtime possession to upset the Grizzlies (9-4).
Granite Bay missed a field-goal attempt with 16 seconds to play in regulation after Lucas Baiocchi’s late third-quarter touchdown run made it 21-21. The Grizzlies led 14-7 at halftime on Tyler Brendel’s 57-yard run and a 30-yard touchdown pass from Yeaton to Will Stabbert.
No. 3 St. Mary’s 23, No. 2 Elk Grove 15 in Elk Grove – Noah Righetti threw touchdown passes of 67 and 19 yards, Nicholas Hall made three field goals, and the Rams’ defense came up big, including three first-half turnovers, to deny the Thundering Herd (10-3) a third consecutive trip to the section final.
St. Mary’s (12-1) will play Grant on Friday at Sacramento State.
No. 1 Inderkum 51, No. 5 Sacramento 34 in Natomas – Larry Hardy returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and rushed for scores of 60 and 5 yards; Raekwon Turner had 20- and 17-yard touchdown runs, Austin Thurman had a 68-yard touchdown run, and Jonathan Henry threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to lead the Tigers (12-1) over the Dragons (10-3) and into the section final against Oakdale 7 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln of Stockton.
Lonny Powell rushed for two touchdowns and caught a 20-yard scoring strike from Caden Voges, who threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another for Sacramento.
This will be Inderkum’s third trip to the D-III section finals. The Tigers lost 27-21 in overtime to Casa Roble in 2008 and fell to Del Campo 16-12 in 2009. The Tigers’ oly loss this season was 29-27 to Monterey Trail.
No. 3 Oakdale 41, No. 10 Rio Linda 14 in Oakdale – Frank Trent rushed for three touchdowns, Darus Nelson scored two, and Brock Whiting had a 54-yard touchdown run as the Mustangs (12-1) rolled over the Knights (10-3).
Oakdale’s trio of rushers entered the game having rushed for more than 3,400 yards. This will be Oakdale’s 12th trip to a section title game. The Mustangs have won three times.
Rio Linda, which was held to 13 rushing yards in the first two quarters, had reached the finals by upsetting No. 7 Placer 62-51 and No. 2 Sierra of Manteca 49-44.
The Bee’s Joe Davidson contributed to this report.