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The Community Christian School football team of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A eight-player brand kicked off its 2018 home season with a loss to an opponent that hadn’t won a game in 28 years on a humid Friday night at CCS.
Pungo Christian Academy of Belhaven, returning to football for the first time since 1990 and off to an 0-2 2018 start, capitalized upon seven Cyclones errors in posting a 62-32 nonconferencevictory that left CCS with a 1-1 record.
CCS lost four fumbles and threw three interceptions. The turnovers were converted into four Raiders’ touchdowns and also a pair of deep CCS threats.
From an 8-8 tie, Pungo bolted to a 30-8 halftime lead and then scored on its first play from scrimmage the second half. When stoppages for players with cramps didn’t intervene, the teams basically traded TDs the rest of the way.
Pungo did not commit a turnover and survived six dropped passes, including three in the end zone, by the same receiver. The Raiders were penalized 13 times for 130 yards with several flags thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct. An infraction nullified one TD.
Both senior quarterback Reece Bartlett and bruising 209-pound senior fullback Gavin Wiley rushed for over 200 yards for the Cyclones. Bartlett rambled for 243 yards on 16 rushes, while Wiley thundered for 211 yards on 22 rushes.
But the performance proved bittersweet for Bartlett. He galloped for TDS of 66, 55 and 12 yards but threw a trio of interceptions and lost two fumbles. Wiley added the other TD on a 9-yard burst.
With the trio of junior quarterback Nate Vanstadlkduinen, junior Ryan Bishop and senior Benjamin Simmons all but unstoppable, the Raiders piled up 22 first downs and 463 yards of offense.
Simmons registered interceptions on CCS’ first two possessions and scored a pair of TDs on option pitches and another on a 56-yard dash the first scrimmage play of the second half.
Bishop hauled in a pair of TD passes and 215-pound sophomore Edward Credle scored twice and had an interception to set up a TD. Vanstaddkduinen notched a TD on a 43-yard return of a fumble recovery.
After a fourth-down stop by Cyclones senior Barry Radford stopped Pungo at the CCS 2-yard line in the opening quarter, Simmons ended a Cyclones threat with his second interception.
Midway the second quarter, CCS stopped the Raiders on downs at the Cyclones’ 7-yard line. Credle’s interception left Pungo in business at the CCS 6-yard line.
A fourth-down stop forced CCS to relinquish possession at Pungo’s 5-yard line. The Cyclones, late in the first half, retained possession at Pungo’s 30-yard line, but Vanstaadlduinen’s fumble recovery led to another Pungo TD.
CCS marched to a first down at Pungo’s 13-yard line in the third quarter, but a fumble resulted in a loss of 13 yards and Pungo took over on downs at its 16-yard line. The Cyclones owned the football at Pungo’s 20-yard line in the opening seconds of the final quarter, but Raiders senior Jacob Alligood pounced on another CCS fumble.
The Raiders rubbed proverbial salt in the wound with less than two minutes remaining.
On first down, Pungo took a knee.
With the Cyclones expecting the same courtesy on second down, Vanstaddkduinen dropped back and heaved a 42-yard TD pass to Bishop, who came up with a circus catch.
CCS visits Kinston Bethel Christian next week.