Cylar, Golden Bears handle Dragons




East quarterback Zane Cylar was just having a little bit of fun in contributing to all four Golden Bears’ touchdowns in a 27-12 victory over Niles at Rayen Stadium on Friday night.

Cylar ran for two scores and threw for two more in amassing more than 300 yards of offense.

“It’s fun,” Cylar said. “I’m out there doing what I love, especially after not being able to play for a year. It’s fun making plays.”

Making plays was exactly what Cylar, mostly while on the run, whether he was throwing the ball or not.

“He just keeps plays alive,” Niles coach Jim Parry said. “There were times you’d think we were frustrated with our secondary, but we can’t cover guys for 11 or 12 seconds. He keeps a play alive and his eyes downfield. He caught us a couple of times.”

Trailing 9-0 late in the second quarter, Cylar moved out of the pocket and led Marquan Herron with a pass down the sideline. Herron’s one-handed grab on third-and-12 moved the chains and set up Cylar’s 1-yard plunge for a touchdown.

With 20 seconds to play in the half, Cylar scrambled and hit Leland Love, who stood waiting for the pass before scrambling to the end zone for a 65-yard score to give East (3-1) a 14-9 lead at the intermission.

“He’s the general of the team,” East coach Brian Marrow said. “He’s always even-keeled and that’s what you want in a quarterback. He doesn’t get too excited when he makes a big play and if he messes up, he comes back and thinks about what he’s doing. The best way I can describe him is to say he’s our general. The guys rallied behind him and played tough.”

In the third quarter, Herron went up over a receiver and hauled in another pass from Cylar, who had moved out of the pocket yet again, for a 20-9 lead with 7:21 to play in the period.

After a drive that lasted nearly eight minutes, the Red Dragons (0-4) used 18 plays to move 55 yards for a 28-yard field goal from Chase Zudzina. The drive stalled at the Golden Bears’ 18 after a penalty and two incomplete passes.

“Unfortunately, those are the growing pains we’re going through,” Parry said. “When you’re used to winning, you find a way to punch that in. We have to find a way to break through.”

Cylar closed the scoring with a 15-yard scramble for a 27-12 lead with 3:34 remaining in the fourth quarter. He finished with 87 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries and was 9 of 13 passing for 255 yards and two more touchdowns.

“It was just my coaches putting me in the right spots,” Cylar said. “They trust me and the receivers got open. I’m looking to throw the ball. I’m a quarterback at heart. The line keeping their blocks that long helps. I’m not out there doing it by myself. It’s my line.”

Niles took a 2-0 lead just more than four minutes in when an errant snap went over Cylar’s head and the Golden Bears fell on it in the end zone. Robbie Savin returned the free kick to the East 4 and quarterback Zack Leonard put the Red Dragons ahead, 9-0, with a touchdown pass to Trent Johnson with 6:01 to play in the first period.

“That gave us confidence,” Parry said. “There were a couple of big plays. It could’ve been even a little better. We had the lead and our chests puffed up. I thought we played with a little more spirit.”

The Golden Bears, however, had an answer.

“The guys stuck with it,” Marrow said. “We knew we were facing a tough team. It didn’t seem like they took heed. We had some really bad breaks, but that’s something that happens. I wanted them to know to stay together and play hard and things would come to us. It wasn’t a good feeling being down to a team you’re supposed to be better than. I’m proud of my guys for the way they fought through adversity.”

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