Two offensive juggernauts. Just a single touchdown. And one huge step for the Bunn Wildcats toward a potential Northern Carolina 2A Conference football championship.
The host Wildcats scored only nine points, but that would prove to be enough as Bunn’s defense made a trio of key red-zone stops en route to defeating South Granville 9-3 in a duel of clubs who entered the contest with undefeated marks in the NCC.
Bunn, in coach David Howle’s final season, is now 8-1 overall and 3-0 in league play, and the Wildcats control their ability to defend their conference crown from 2015. South Granville fell to 7-2 and 2-1.
“It was a heck of a football game,” Howle said. “South Granville has a good football team. I really wasn’t expecting this type of (low-scoring) game, but that’s the way it worked out, and our defense played really well.”
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Neither team located the end zone in the first half, but Bunn took the lead for good courtesy of D.J. Jones’ 47-yard touchdown run with 8:45 remaining in the third period.
On the play, Jones took a counter handoff and ran into a wide-open hole – which was a rarity for either side during the defensive struggle.
“As soon as I saw things open up, I knew I had to run hard to get through there,” Jones said. “We hadn’t scored a touchdown to that point, so we really needed to get things going. We knew we had to get one in the second half.”
South Granville had a final chance in the fourth period, but Celik Curtis recovered a fumble at his own 20 with 5:27 left in the game to put an end to what had been an effective 16-play drive that started on the Vikings’ 2-yard line.
THREE TO KNOW
D.J. Jones, Bunn: In addition to the lone touchdown, Jones rushed for 185 yards and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
“D.J. has added a sense of power to our running game,” said Bunn offensive coordinator Chris Lewis. “He has really stepped up big when he has been asked.”
Celik Curtis, Bunn: A defensive end, Curtis needed to maintain his responsibility to help the Wildcats’ neutralize South Granville’s high-powered triple option. Curtis has secured 19 sacks this fall to lead a Bunn defense that continues to improve each week after some early-season struggles.
“I really had to stay home (against their scheme),” Curtis said. “It was just a matter of how bad we wanted it, and I wanted it really, really bad. As the game went on, we knew we had to keep making stops.”
Allajah Mitchell, South Granville: Another talented end on the defensive side, Mitchell, a junior, was a force for the Vikings. Bunn coaches couldn’t stop raving about him after the game, and he even ran down two buck sweeps from the opposite end of the field.
BY THE NUMBERS
11: Howle, who is retiring at the conclusion of the campaign, has 11 conference championships at Bunn – and he would love to pick up one more. If the Wildcats can win out against Franklinton and Warren County, Howle will reach have his dozenth.
6: South Granville has scored over 30 points on six occasions this year, but the Vikings picked up just one field goal Friday – though they had plenty of opportunities.
8: Jones has rushed for over 100 yards in eight of Bunn’s nine outings this fall. The only time it didn’t happen was during a blowout victory that saw Jones receive limited playing time.
2: There were only two turnovers in the tight contest, including a Bunn fumble that South Granville recovered deep in its own territory.
THEY SAID IT
“We moved the ball but just didn’t cash in on our chances,” said South Granville coach Mike Hobgood. “We went for a touchdown early on and didn’t get it (on fourth down). We settled for a field goal another time and then had a chance (in the fourth quarter) and fumbled (inside the Bunn 20).”
He continued: “You have to give Bunn credit. They are definitely in the driver’s seat in the conference, but there are still other goals out there for us. We aren’t going to stop playing. There are still a lot of things to play for this season.”