UNBEATEN NO MORE: Bears upset Trojans, 12-9

Trojans’ Chris Culliver (1) runs it in for a 10-yard touchdown, the team’s only one of the game on Friday, September 13. (Photo by Michelle Thompson)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

The Bandys Trojans’ Varsity football team has lived by its running attack the first three weeks of play.

However, all good things come to an end at some point and, for Bandys, it happened to be against a winless Bunker Hill squad.

The Bears picked up its first win of the early season at the expense of one of the top dogs in Catawba County on its own turf -- Randy Lowman Field. Its win over Bandys is its first since October 21, 2016.

"This was a team win," said Bunker Hill second-year head coach, Patrick Clark. "Our staff did a great job coaching our young men up and our young men did a better job executing. My job was to not mess them up...We knew that Coach Eanes would have a very physical smash mouth team, and the way to win the ball game was to match their physicality."

In a nailbiting loss, 12-9, the Trojans (3-1) had its best effort in the second quarter. After being down 6-0 early, Bandys charged its way back to its only lead of the night via the tried-and-true run-game.

Chris Culliver marched into the end zone with a 10-yard carry on third down. The Jesse Pope point-after attempt gave the home-team the lead, 7-6, with 10:54 left in the second quarter. Culliver finished with 59 yards on seven carries.

This drive began on the Bandys’ 47-yard line and it resulted in points. Thanks to a big connection from quarterback Parker DeHart to Parker Styborski for over 40 yards, in addition to a pass interference penalty on Bunker Hill, it put the Trojans on the Bears' 14-yard line. .

However, the Bears (1-3) defense could almost do no wrong for the rest of the match-up. It didn’t help that the Trojans don’t have a true quarterback this year. Bandys used Hunter Jones, DeHart and Jackson Spicer at times throughout the game.

"Our strength of our defense is defending the run," said Clark. "Our safeties are very physical and love coming downhill. It was strength vs strength. Our secondary did a great job setting the edge.The DL kept the (inside linebackers) clean and they were able to make big plays. Our DL has been playing very well and anchoring our defense. Our OLBs set the edge all night. Very proud of all them.It honestly was a great group effort."

In addition to being behind center, Jones and DeHart were also utilized in the ground game, as well as Isaiah Gilchrist and Quenten Maddox. Jones obtained 47 yards on 15 carries while DeHart didn't muster a positive game, finishing with -2 yards on four attempts. Gilchrist earned 42 yards on 11 carries while Maddox had 35 yards on four carries.

Malik Kennedy was also able to get into the fold with nine yards on five attempts.

After reclaiming the lead on a 9-yard TD run by Kaden Robinson in the second quarter, leading 12-7 with 4:06 remaining in the second quarter, it seemed Bandys couldn’t answer; but, it did have a big play from Mason Edmonson -- who sacked Bears’ quarterback, Carson Elder for the safety to bring the lead to only 12-9 with under two minutes in the third quarter.

Robinson was the leading man on the ground for Bunker Hill, finishing with 51 yards on 16 carries and two rushing TDs (the first coming on a 6-yarder in the first quarter).

"Our kids have make a big commitment to being their best," said Clark. "It started in the weight room and off-season workouts. We have very good offensive minded coaches on our staff and they put our young men in a good position to make plays.

"As everyone knows, the (running back) can’t do much if our big guys upfront aren’t doing their job. Our passing and catching ability allows us to stretch defenses and open up more lanes."

Through all of this, the Trojans had one more chance to win the game with 3:40 left in the fourth quarter and starting on the Bears' 49-yard line. Nevertheless, the 13-play drive ended on the 8-yard line with a turnover on downs. Every play in this series was a run except for one pass attempt by DeHart to Styborski that went for five yards.

Bandys will try and regroup as it has a bye week in Week 5 before challenging Maiden at home on September 27. The same goes for Bunker Hill as it will have the upcoming week off before returning home to face the Hibriten Panthers.

*Updated on Sunday, September 15*

Area varsity football scores (Week 4, September 13):

Maiden 41, St. Stephens 14

Hunter Huss 33, Hickory 7

Alexander Central 49, South Iredell 7

West Lincoln 41, Fred T. Foard 7

Hendersonville 38, Newton-Conover 31