On a night when a Bunker Hill offensive weapon reached a milestone mark, the Bears defense mauled their opponents in the game’s waning moments to preserve a 34-26 victory over Fred T. Foard.
“I am real proud of the way the defense stepped up there in the fourth quarter,” said Bunker Hill coach Travis Conner. “We got some big stops.”
Clinging to a 28-26 lead in the fourth quarter, the Bears first turned away a Tiger attack that began with less than five minutes left in the game. On a critical third-down-and-long play, Bear defenders Delone Goss, Jonathan Griffith and Lashaun Redman teamed up to sack Foard quarterback Erik Ware for a big loss.
With the Tigers going for it on fourth-and-23, the Bear defense stepped up again — this time when Redman, Lee Wheeler and Justin Lynch sacked the Tiger quarterback.
Taking over on downs, Bunker Hill wasted no time creating scoreboard separation. A 33-yard touchdown scamper by Bunker Hill’s Justin Lynch widened the margin. Foard blocked the PAT kick, however, and the Tigers still had a chance, down 34-26.
With 1:30 left in the game, the Tigers started to march. Tre Robinson rushed for a first down, then Ware connected with Tevan Ikard to get the Tigers into Bunker Hill territory. They drove no further.
Bunker Hill’s Ryan Huffman broke up a pass, Redman logged another sack on Ware and the Bears sunk their claws into a fourth-straight victory. For the second year, Bunker Hill opens its season 4-0.
“It is not a great win, but it is a good win,” Conner told his team after the game. “I hope this woke us up a little bit. We have not arrived. We have got a lot of hard work to do.”
The Tigers have not arrived yet either, but they are making progress, Foard coach Jason Phelps said.
“We played our butts off,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our kids. We just came up short. We are getting better, and that is all I can ask for.”
The Bunker Hill win also included a milestone moment for Bear senior running back Reggie Davis. With 131 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 16 carries, Davis broke the 3,000-yard mark for his career. He is now unofficially 614 yards away from the Bunker Hill rushing record held by Darnell Lyerly.
“Any time you have a kid that gets that many yards in a career, that is pretty special,” Conner said. “He got over 3,000 (3,083 unofficially), and then Justin Lynch came in there and gave us a big boost in the fourth quarter. He sprung one open, and Reggie was his lead blocker up in there.”
Davis got the Bears going with a strong start, returning the opening kick-off 60 yards. Four plays and 20 yards later, Huffman rushed 11 yards to help give Bunker Hill a 7-0 lead.
Foard responded immediately on the heels of Ware and running back Robinson. The Tigers put together a nine-play, 55-yard drive and Robinson’s six-yard touchdown, followed by Zach Schellenberger’s PAT, evened the score, 7-7.
For the night Robinson rushed for three touchdowns and 199 yards on 19 carries.
“Foard played very well tonight,” Conner said. “That (Robinson) is a real player. He will do well for them all year long.”
The score-and-answer refrain continued throughout the game.
After the tie, Bunker Hill took another lead when the Bears’ Oliver Reitzel handed the ball to Stefan Gettys, who passed it deep to a streaking Huffman. The 59-yard scoring strike gave Bunker Hill a 13-7 lead after an unsuccessful PAT.
Again, Foard answered — and fast. Two plays into their ensuing drive, Robinson rushed 76 yards to score. Schellenberger’s kick put Foard ahead 14-13.
Both teams scored again before the half. For Bunker Hill, the points came on a one-yard touchdown run by Davis to cap a 14-play, 69-yard drive.
Foard answered shortly thereafter, but it wasn’t as easy this time. The Tigers converted twice on fourth down, including a fourth-down touchdown pass from Ware to Ikard for a 21-yard scoring play.
Bunker Hill began a drive before halftime, but Foard’s Rey Calderon intercepted a pass to maintain the Tigers’ 21-20 deficit going into intermission.
The second half was much like the first — Bunker Hill scored, and Foard answered almost every time. First, Davis crossed the goal-line on a 42-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion put the Bears ahead, 28-20.
The score didn’t hold long. Foard’s Robinson scored on a 13-yard run to bring the Tigers within two points, 28-26, but a two-point conversion attempt was no good, and the Tigers couldn’t tie the game.
Lynch’s late score and the Bears defensive stops sealed the win for Bunker Hill. Lynch finished the night rushing eight times for 50 yards and his fourth-quarter touchdown.
Bunker Hill looks ahead to next week’s match-up at East Burke.
“We went into halftime last year against East Burke, 7-7,” Conner said, “Then, we came back and scored 40 unanswered in the second half. We can’t put ourselves in that situation next week at their place. We have to be ready from the get-go. We have got a lot of work to do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to be ready to go up there.”
Foard opens its conference schedule next week, traveling to Watauga.