Big plays and solid defense were key in Bunker Hill’s 20-6 Catawba Valley 2A Conference-opening win over the Wolves Friday night at Lincolnton.
With the first half of play being dominated by the two defenses, the Bears broke through with a 30-yard field goal from Alan Bahena Soto with just 17 seconds remaining to take a slim 3-0 lead into the locker room at the break.
Midway through the third period, Bunker Hill’s Justin Killian broke free and outraced Lincolnton defenders for an 82-yard touchdown that gave the Bears some separation. Soto’s PAT made it a 10-0 game.
The Bunker Hill kicker would add a second field goal late in the third from 25 yards out that gave the Bears a 13-0 advantage.
But the Wolves wouldn’t go quietly.
Deandre Smith’s 49-yard run midway through the fourth period set up his touchdown run from one yard out, but a failed 2-point conversion run left Lincolnton down by seven.
The knockout punch came on the ensuing kickoff, however, when Bunker Hill’s Elijah Boston returned the Wolves’ kick 93 yards to seal the win for the Bears.
With the exception of the 82-yard run, the Lincolnton defense was solid. The Wolves actually outgained Bunker Hill on the night with 216 total yards to the Bears 185.
But once again, the Lincolnton special teams had a costly play go against them.
Smith led the Lincolnton offense with 68 yards and a touchdown on ten carries. The senior also had three receptions for 10 yards.
Quarterback Andre Bost, who came off the bench, connected on 5 of nine pass attempts for 51 yards.
Killian’s 86 yards on three carries, including his 82-yard scoring run, led the Bears offense. Bunker Hill completed just 2 of nine pass attempts for five yards.
The Bears win over the Wolves on Friday was just their second all-time in 11 meetings with Lincolnton.
Glass slipper fits, Hickory upsets
Mike Powell - Special to the LTN
HICKORY— As East Lincoln gathered in the end zone for its run onto the field at Frank Barger Stadium, the Mustang cheerleaders held up a huge banner that said, “Hey Tornadoes – today’s forecast is for a Mustang win.”
Instead, it was the Mustangs who felt the brunt of stormy weather in the wake of Hickory’s stunning 22-21win Friday night in a Western Foothills 3A Conference opener.
Clearly, the Red Tornadoes (2-2, 1-0) posted what could be a signature victory for new coach Joe Glass, who last year roamed the sidelines at Lincolnton as head man and went 0-2 against East Lincoln in his two-year stint.
“I remember a heartbreaking loss two years ago at Lincolnton (against East Lincoln),” Glass said. “We had special teams miscues then, and tonight I was thinking, ‘Oh Lord, here we go again.’”
Indeed, special team issues almost unraveled the Red Tornadoes against a patched-up East Lincoln team that was missing first-string quarterback Tyler Mizell (broken left arm).
Errors in the kicking game produced two of East Lincoln’s three touchdowns and kept the Mustangs (3-1, 0-1) in a contest in which they trailed by scores of 8-0, 16-6, and 22-13.
After Hickory went up 22-13 early in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard run by Josiah Edwards, East Lincoln’s Jeremiah Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.
Markell Clark’s 2-point conversion run pulled to East Lincoln to 22-21 and set the stage for drama down the stretch.
On the other hand, the Mustangs had kicking woes of their own that contributed to their first loss after a 3-0 run through the non-conference schedule.
East Lincoln failed to convert three field goal attempts, including a 37-yarder with 6.9 seconds left that would have won it. The snap and hold went off well, but the kick drifted to the right as all but 0.08 seconds ticked off the clock.
The Red Tornadoes did not even have to huddle in victory formation.
“It feels good to win against them,” Glass said. “Anytime you beat a quality opponent, it is always good for us.”
Meanwhile, East Lincoln will have to regroup offensively after the debut of Jeremiah Jones at quarterback and a more conservative approach failed to mount sustained drives.
In fact, of Jones’ first eight passes, two went for negative yardage as Hickory closely defended short throws into the flat and the sideline.
Ironically, Jones went to the bench with an injury in the second quarter after he completed East Lincoln’s biggest gain from scrimmage all night – a 46-yard pass down the right sideline that Kendra Walker hauled in one-handed.
That play sent freshman Hunter Bolling into the game at quarterback, and he promptly threw a 40-yard touchdown strike to Clark for East Lincoln’s first score with 8:55 left in the half.
Thrown into the fire, Bolling handled the pressure well, finishing with 14 completions in 25 attempts for 113 yards and a score.
Furthermore, Bolling led East Lincoln down the field in the final two minutes to set up the potential game-winning field goal attempt. The ninth grader completed his last four passes in hurry-up mode, moving the Mustangs from their own 10 to the Hickory 20 with six seconds left.
Continuing a season-long trend, East Lincoln’s injury woes were not limited to the quarterback position. Leading rusher Orlandis Howell-Johnson exited midway through the third quarter, and even though he came back for spot duty, he was not a factor the rest of the way.
Despite the inconsistencies in the kicking game for East, Parker Davis made a big play when he blocked a punt in the third quarter and East gained possession at the Red Tornado 4-yard line. Tyjai Johnson scored on the next play.
Rebels top Bandys in OT,
move to 4-0
Mason Avery’s 10-yard touchdown run on the Rebels first offensive play of overtime gave West Lincoln a 20-17 win in their Catawba Valley 2A Conference opener Friday night at Bandys.
In a game that had several momentum swings, it was the Rebels that struck last and came away with a huge victory to improve to 4-0 on the season ahead of next week’s big CVAC matchup with Maiden.
Early on, it looked as if West Lincoln might run away with the contest.
Avery put the Rebels on the board with a one-yard scoring run midway through the opening quarter and Zach Daigler hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Truesdale late in the period. Trista Primmer added both PAT’s, and West Lincoln took a 14-0 lead.
But the second period belonged to the Trojans.
First, Terrick Bumgarner ran one in from 11 yards out early in the quarter. Joshua Hernandez added the extra point to cut the Rebel lead in half.
Then with just 1:40 remaining in the first half, Bumgarner added a second touchdown run from 23 yards out, and another Hernandez PAT left the teams tied at 14 at the half.
Surprisingly, neither team would put any points on the board for the entire second half, sending the contest to overtime. Fletcher Harris did attempt a 49-yard field goal at the end of regulation that would have given Bandys the win, but missed it to the left.
The Trojans got the ball first, and in three attempts, could not find the end zone after a 9-yard scoring run was nullified by a holding penalty.
Harris, however, nailed a field goal from 23 yards away, that gave Bandys their only lead of the night. And it was a short lived one.
Avery and the Rebels scored the game-winner on the first snap, ending the drama quickly and sending West Lincoln into full celebration mode.
The Rebels found a way to get the conference-opening win even though they were outgained in total yardage 310 to 175. Avery was held to 62 yards on 18 carries, but did manage to get into the end zone twice, including the game winner.
Trace Gilmore had 12 carries for 70 yards for West Lincoln.
Bumgarner led the Trojans rushing attack with 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 23 carries.
Both teams turned the ball over three times. An interception by Avery and a West Lincoln forced fumble set up the Rebels first two scores. West Lincoln also forced a key turnover, recovered by Patrick Goins, with Bandys driving in Rebel territory with under five minutes to play.
The win for West Lincoln sets up a big early-season CVAC matchup with unbeaten Maiden this Friday night in Vale. The Rebels had a two-game win streak over the Blue Devils snapped this past spring with a 21-20 loss at Maiden.
Hounds too much for Knights
Tanner Boggs - Statesville Record & Landmark
Statesville (3-0, 1-0) shook off the rust after two weeks off and stifled North Lincoln’s (2-2, 0-1) offense on its way to a 14-5 conference win Friday night.
Both teams struggled to get into an offensive rhythm early, but the Greyhounds broke through late in the first quarter on a 55-yard Zamari Stevenson strike to Steven Smith.
Outside of the first quarter touchdown, both offensives struggled in the first half, a first half Statesville head coach Randall Gusler said showed the rust from having two weeks off, especially on the offensive end.
“We were a little rusty, but I thought we came out and started playing,” Gusler said. “Defense played great tonight, offensively we were out of sync, but we did what we had to do.”
It was an impressive defensive performance for the Greyhounds. A week after North Lincoln put up 54 points, the Knights were unable to muster much on offense.
“This is a team that scored 54 points the last time they played,” Gusler said. “We watched them on film and were really impressed with how their offense grinded, but our defense played super well tonight.”
North Lincoln put points on the board late in the second quarter, in part thanks to errors and penalties by Statesville.
After the Greyhounds put themselves in fourth and long deep in their own territory due to numerous infractions, a special teams error via a snap over the punter’s head gave the Knights a safety and cut Statesville’s lead to 6-2 going into the half.
The offensive woes on both sides continued deep into the third quarter. North Lincoln was finally able to breakthrough on a 29-yard field goal to make it a 6-5 game with 2:20 remaining in the third.
But Statesville responded quickly, as Stevenson found Titus Myers on a 33-yard heave as the 3rd quarter ended.
Statesville, playing without placekicker Sam Buckner, opted to go for the two-point conversion. Stevenson moved over to wide receiver and caught the two-point conversion on a pass from Elijah Munoz over a North Lincoln player to give the Greyhounds a two-score lead and head into the fourth quarter up 14-5.
North Lincoln drove the field again midway through the fourth quarter, but a 30-yard field goal to make it a one-score game was blocked by Munoz. The two teams traded possessions before Statesville kneeled the clock out to start conference play 1-0.
Next, Statesville travels to face East Lincoln in an important conference matchup. Gusler said he hopes the Greyhounds were able to shake any rust off Friday and will be ready to play next week.
North Lincoln will play host to Hickory on Friday.
(Published September 20, 2021)