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Gridley Herald

Second Half Momentum Pushes Tigers over Wolverines

Nov 30, 2023 09:51AM ● By Steven Bryla

Biggs senior running back Zach Smith (2) breaks to the right side on a rush attempt in the Wolverines 27-14 loss to Portola on Wednesday, November 22. Photo by Steven Bryla

PORTOLA, CA (MPG) - The Biggs Wolverines lost to the Portola Tigers 27-14 in the California Interscholastic Federation Northern Section Division V championship game on Wednesday, November 22.

Biggs took a near three-hour bus ride down the scenic route of Highway 70, with their city right behind them, showing full support in the stands in Portola.

In a game where people assumed it would be a ground and pound rushing attack, as both teams heavily favored the run, there were plenty of pass attempts that soared through the air.

The Tigers got on the scoreboard in the opening drive of the game as senior quarterback Tanner Carr found senior wide receiver Johnny Stewart on a 33-yard touchdown pass. 

Prior to the point-after touchdown (PAT) being snapped, the Wolverines jumped offside to move the ball a yard-and-a-half up, and Portola was successful on the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead with a little under eight minutes to go in the first. 

Biggs responded on the following possession with a seven-minute drive where senior running back Zach Smith scored on a six-yard rushing touchdown. 

The Wolverines were unsuccessful on the two-point attempt, and Portola held the 8-6 advantage. Smith had 73 yards rushing on the night from 17 attempts.

The rest of the first half was scoreless as both defenses had fumble recoveries early in the second quarter, and Biggs senior wide receiver/defensive back Solomon Melendez intercepted a pass as the Tigers were driving late in the second quarter.

At the half, the game was still 8-6 in favor of Portola.

The Wolverines were driving the ball to open the second half and as they attempted a 34-yard field goal; it was blocked and returned for a touchdown, and the Tigers sideline and cheering section erupted in cheers.

Momentum shifted in the game as Biggs quickly found themselves down 27-6 at the end of the third quarter after Portola added a 30-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Cody Wilmer and a 20-yard passing touchdown from Carr to sophomore fullback Chris Garza.

Wolverines senior quarterback Brady Smith added a 14-yard rushing touchdown in the final couple minutes in the game, and senior running back Brody Hudson added the two-point conversion. 

Biggs junior defensive back Brady Smith (19) makes a shoe-string tackle on Portola junior running back Magnus Berg (5) in the Wolverines 27-14 defeat to the Tigers on Wednesday, November 22. Photo by Steven Bryla

Brady completed seven passes for 79 yards in the air and 49 yards from rushing.

Biggs will lose 12 players from this season’s roster due to graduation, but they bring back a good core of their talent including Brady, 2025 running back/linebacker Davis Long, 2025 tight end/linebacker Logan Harrison and 2025 wide receiver/defensive back Solomon Melendez.

Melendez led the Wolverines with four interceptions this season, and Brady finished right behind with three picks. Harrison and Long will be the two top returning tacklers next season for Biggs, and Long will look to add to his 2700-plus career rushing yards.

Wolverines head coach Brian Harrison is excited about the returning group he will have next season. Harrison took Biggs from the semifinals to the finals in the NS playoffs, so if the trend continues we could be talking about a different type of game next season.

Brian did tell the Herald that he can’t wait to get started for next season and hopes to continue to build the Wolverines football program.