It was deja vu all over again for Bunker Hill.
For the second straight year, the Bears traveled down Springs Road and defeated St. Stephens, 28-14.
Leading the way for the Bears was their rushing attack, which racked up 212 yards on the ground, including 148 yards from running back Reggie Davis and 64 yards from Justin Lynch.
"We are going to run the football," said Bears coach Travis Connor. "We're going to do that, but we've got to throw the ball better. We've got to pick our spots to throw it better. When you have two backs like Reggie and Justin, you've got to feed them."
More impressive than Lynch's rushing stats Friday night was his defensive performance, which included three interceptions with one of those returned for an 83-yard touchdown.
"It was a special night for Justin," Connor said. "Those don't come along too often."
Indians' quarterback Ky'rawn Whitfield was intercepted by Lynch in the first quarter at the 34-yard line to set up the Bears' second drive. Davis capped that drive with a 2-yard rushing touchdown. After a missed extra point, the Bears led 6-0.
On their second straight drive, the Indians turned the ball over. Matt Williams, a second quarterback for theSt. Stepehens, threw an interception to Jackie Tarris. Once again capitalizing on the turnover, the Bears converted on fourth down at the 1-yard line.
Running back Justin Lynch dove over a pile of defenders for the score to put the visiting team up 14-0 after a two-point conversion at the end of the first quarter.
"I can summarize this game for us in two words — turnovers, turnovers," said Indians coach Fred Whalen. "Last week, we had five turnovers and that killed us. That was three touchdowns last week against Bandys. It was the same deal this week. We gave up four interceptions and one fumble. They got four touchdowns out of that. That's nothing to take away from Bunker. They are a smashmouth football team. They are going to get three yards a run because they run down the field and chew up the clock. Obviously, we did a lot of it to ourselves. It was our turnovers that set the tone for the whole game."
The Indians tried to build momentum early in the second quarter. Following a stalled St. Stephens drive, the Indians punted to Colton Chapman, but he fumbled into the arms of Brandon Grant.
Once again though, a potential Indians scoring drive was stopped by an interception — a second pick by Lynch. He returned the ball 83 yards for a touchdown.
Finally putting together a scoring drive required a fourth down conversion and three downs deep inside Bunker Hill territory to get the Indians on the scoreboard. Jon Sweet plunged in one play later on a 1-yard score to cut the deficit to 21-6 after a missed extra point.
After the halftime break, the Bears went back to their ground-and-pound attack. In the opening two drives of the half, Davis carried the ball 11 times for 53 yards and his second touchdown of the game.
The St. Stephens' defense was much more poised in the second half, giving up one touchdown and holding Lynch to eight carries on 17 yards.
"Our defense stepped up in the second half," Whalen said. "We got some good stops. There was one drive we got a penalty on, which killed us a little bit, but I'm proud of our defense. The last two weeks, our defense has played outstanding. The offense has put the defense in bad situations and that hurt us."
Despite a rough first half of play passing the football, Whitfield began to use his legs in the second half. He scrambled for 22 yards on the Indians' fourth possession, including a 14-yard rush for a score.
"He's a tough kid," Whalen said. "He's 5-foot-nothing and 100-and-nothing. Ky'rawn was in a groove. We moved back to our old offense and it worked for us in two series. Our players will probably say something about that. Hopefully, we can keep our offense rolling and keep momentum going into next week."
Down two scores, the Indians continued to try to tie the game, but a pass by Whitfield with just over a minute remaining in the game was intercepted by Lynch — his third of the game. That sealed the game victory for the Bears.
"It's a big win for our community and our school," Connor said. "It doesn't matter if we are playing checkers against St. Stephens, we want to beat them. It was a huge win our program and community. We got them last year. Anytime you play a rival, it's big to get a win no matter how you do it. We gutted one out tonight. I'm proud of the kids for the effort they gave all night long."
Next week Bunker Hill travels to take on a winless North Lincoln squad, which was trampled by Maiden, 53-6, at home. St. Stephens searches for its first win in its first road game, when the Indians play at Newton-Conover.