Bunker Hill 28, Draughn 27

Draughn linebacker Zach Poteet eyes his path to the Bunker Hill ball carrier on Friday in Claremont.

CLAREMONT — The Draughn football team’s record win streak ended in heartbreaking fashion Friday in Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference play as host Bunker Hill scored a touchdown with 28 seconds remaining to win 28-27.

Winners of five straight coming in, the Wildcats (5-3, 3-1 NWFAC) trailed 7-0 out the gate on an interception returned for a touchdown and fell behind 21-6 just 2 minutes into the second period after a safety sandwiched by a Bears’ rushing score and passing score.

Undeterred, Draughn rattled off 21 unanswered points starting with Braxton Cox finding Beckett Nelson from 13 yards out. Nick Chrisco then stepped into a starting second-period role as picked off a Bunker Hill pass in the red zone before he found open field on a 58-yard bomb from Cox to get the offense rolling again.

Two plays later, Cox connected on his third touchdown of the night as he found a wide-open Chrisco for the 7-yard score, followed by a Ryan Kaminske extra point to trim the deficit to 21-19 at halftime.

The Wildcats defense continued to play a big role in the third quarter, holding the Bears scoreless for the middle 12 minutes of what turned into a 33-plus minute span during the latter chunk of the contest.

The offense capitalized on the strong defensive showing as Trent Corn found the end zone from 2 yards out on the Wildcats’ first possession after the half. Corn then ran for two to put the Wildcats up by 6 with 7:53 to play in the third.

It looked as if the Wildcats would hang on and escape after an early fourth-quarter interception by Robbie Gibby. But a pivotal drive by Bunker that started at its own 35-yard line was capped off by a 17-yard pass from Carson Elder to Kaden Robinson as time wound down.

On the ensuing kickoff, Draughn speedster Khe-nai Banks sprinted down the right sideline to the Bunker 30-yard line to set up a frenetic finish. Cox heaved a pass toward the end zone on the first play, but it fell incomplete. On the guests’ last shot, Cox was sacked.

“We did not prepare well,” Draughn coach Chris Powell said. “I always tell the guys that they take the wins and I will take the losses. We put ourselves in a hole early. It is hard to bounce back from that against a good football team.”

Cox completed 18 of 26 passes for 197 yards along with his three touchdowns and an interception. His favorite target would Chrisco (6-86), and leading the run game was Trent Corn (23-95). Banks added five catches for 60 yards and a 12-yard score to cap Draughn’s second drive of the night.

The Wildcats allowed 265 yards rushing and were outgained overall, 388-305.

Draughn faces league-leading Hibriten, who’s ranked in the top 10 of all three major 2A state polls, at home this week.

 

Michael Thomas can be reached at sports@morganton.com.

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