FLORENCE - The Phillips Bears used a big game from senior running back Hunter Lanford to propel their way to a 27-14 win over the Flame of Shoals Christian.
The victory over the Flame marked the Bears’ first win of the 2019 campaign.
Lanford finished the game with three scores, one through the air and two on the ground, to lead the Bears’ offensive efforts. He also had a fumble recovery and eight solo tackles on the defensive side of the ball.
Momentum was in the Bears’ favor early after recovering a Flame fumble on the opening kickoff of the game. Lanford was the Bear to recover the fumble and dart down to the Shoals Christian four-yard-line. A play later, Lanford found pay dirt as he powered his way through the interior of the line. The two-point try from Ken Edwards was good, making the score 8-0 early in the ball game.
The Bears were back in the end zone a possession later. After recovering another fumble, the Bears took advantage of the Flame miscue, cashing in on a three-yard carry from Edwards.
The Flame found the board on their ensuing drive, punching over a short TD run from Zaiyln Fuqua, but the Bears made sure there was no momentum swing as they answered back with a score of their own on the ensuing drive. Edwards capped the drive with a connection to Lanford for the score. The PAT was good, rounding out the scoring for the half at 21-6.
The second half of the game was a defensive battle. As both teams churned time off the clock, the only score to hit the visiting side of the board was a score from Lanford to round out Phillips’ scoring for the night.
The Flame capped the scoring for the contest with just over one minute remaining in the game after a blocked punt was recovered for a touchdown.
Edwards finished the night 12-of-19 for 198 yards and a score. Hayden Kelley was the leading receiver for the Bears, finishing the night with four catches for 99 yards. Lanford finished the night with four catches for 56 yards and a score. He also had four carries for 29 yards and two scores.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears used a total team effort to keep the Flame offense in check. Edwards finished with two interceptions from his defensive back position. Defensive linemen Alex Copeland and Lucas Atkins set the tone up front, finishing with six and seven solo tackles, respectively.
Linebacker Nevin Elkins finished the night with three tackles and a fumble recovery.
With the win, the Bears pick up their first victory of the season, making their record 1-6 overall and 1-3 in Class 1A Region 8 on the season. The win was crucial for the Bears as they hope to keep their playoff hopes alive.
This week, the Bears will host rival Hackleburg High School. The Panthers, who are a regional opponent to the Bears, are 1-5 and 1-2 in the region on the season.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.