Newton-Conover scored 22 unanswered points in the first quarter to build a lead that proved insurmountable for Bunker Hill.
The Red Devils fought to a 65-32 victory in a game that was filled with enough sloppy play and penalties that Newton-Conover Coach Nick Bazzle wasn’t entirely pleased with the outcome.
“I’m just glad it is over with,” he said adding he doesn’t like to be part of a game with so many penalties. “We’ve got some work to do, but overall it was a good win against a good football team.”
The Red Devils racked up 17 penalties for more than 150 yards. Among those were a handful of unsportsmanlike penalties. The Bears collected plenty of those same dead-ball penalties as they amassed 85 penalty yards and two disqualifications.
“I am disappointed in the things that went on on the field that aren’t characteristic of Newton-Conover football. They’re not supposed to be anyway,” Bazzle said.
From the game’s outset, it became clear that the contest between Catawba Valley Athletic Conference 2A rivals was going to be unusual.
Bunker Hill’s Justin Lynch recovered the Bears’ opening onside kick-off. However, the home-standing Bears fumbled the ball a few plays later. Newton-Conover’s Jake Cansler snatched the bouncing ball from the air and returned it 73 yards to score. Octavius Harden’s two-point conversion gave the Red Devils and early 8-0 lead.
After the Devils’ defense backed up Bunker Hill near its goal line and forced a third-down quick kick, Newton-Conover struck again. On the Devils’ first offensive play Adonis Hewitt connected with a wide-open Cameron Shuford for a 49-yard touchdown play. On Newton-Conover’s next possession, Harden rushed 32 yards to give the Devils a 22-0 lead.
On the ensuing kick-off, however, Bunker Hill’s Davontaye Wilson returned the ball 99 yards to score and get the Bears on the board. A failed PAT made it 22-6, but Newton-Conover’s Jamal Coates took a fourth-and-three handoff 30 yards to score again in the first quarter.
At the end of the first quarter Newton-Conover led 29-6.
Bunker Hill didn’t quit, however. A 30-yard touchdown pass from Joe Litton to Tavious James and a 4-yard touchdown run by Wilson showed the Bears were willing to claw their way back into the game.
“I am not too pleased with us defensively,” Bazzle said. “We gave up to many dog-gone points, and we shouldn’t have.”
Fortunately for Newton-Conover, the Red Devils were posting points almost as quickly as they allowed them. Shuford scored on a 65-yard second-quarter run while Hewitt added an 18-yard touchdown run. At halftime, Newton-Conover led 44-20.
“I am pleased with us offensively,” Bazzle said of his team that amassed almost 500 yards of offense, including 423 yards on the ground.
Hewitt led Red Devil rushers with 126 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, including one 60-yard scamper. Jamal Coates added 94 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, while Harden scored once and rushed for 59 yards on six carries. Shuford scored three times, including his first half touchdown reception, and scoring runs of 65 yards and 12 yards in the second half. Rashad Kissler and Jervasse Herrin also added late scoring runs in the Red Devils’ victory.
Bunker Hill’s Justin Lynch led the Bears with 102 yards on 13 carries. Reggie Davis added 97 yards and a third-quarter touchdown on 14 carries. James caught two passes, both touchdowns, for 37 receiving yards. Bears quarterback Litton completed two passes, both touchdowns in six attempts.
Newton-Conover improved to 8-0 overall this season.
“We have got to beat Draughn. That is next on the schedule,” Bazzle said. “I don’t care a thing about South Iredell right now. This (Draughn) football team we are going to play next week, every week they get a little better, and they are probably the most physical team we have seen so far this season.”