Bunn's Record Day Helps Football to Win at Wingate


WINGATE, NC -- Senior wide out Brandon Bunn (Virginia Beach, VA/Fork Union/VMI) etched his name in the record books as he led the Catawba Indians to a 35-28 win over host Wingate in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Belk Stadium and Martin Field.  Bunn eclipsed marks for receiving touchdowns in a game and a career, while also breaking a 42-year-old record for receiving yards in the game to help the Indians improve to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the SAC.  The Bulldogs, who were receiving votes in the national poll, fall to 2-2 and 0-1.

Bunn got his record day started on the game’s initial play as he hauled in a pass from Patrick Dennis (Durham, NC/Cedar Ridge HS) and raced 74 yards for a score and a quick 7-0 lead with 14:40 on the clock.  Wingate answered with an 11-play, 70-yard drive, but LJ McCray (Charlotte, NC/Harding HS) set Catawba up again with 71-yard kickoff return.  Two plays later Bunn tied the school mark with his 25th career touchdown catch. 

The defenses would enjoy success for much of the rest of the half until a pair of personal foul penalties on the Bulldogs aided in a Catawba drive that resulted in a four-yard pass from Dennis to Grayson Downs (Mt. Pleasant, NC/Mt. Pleasant HS) to put the Indians up 21-7 with 5:12 left before the break.  Wingate moved inside the Catawba red zone late in the half before Julian Hartsell (Columbia, SC/Ridgeview HS) stripped Wingate quarterback Cody Haffly on a sack at the Tribe 21 with 1:51 remaining.

Catawba looked to run out the clock before Josh Wright (Raeford, NC/Hoke Co. HS/W. Carolina) ripped off a 15-yard run near midfield with seconds left.  Daniel Griffith (Salisbury, NC/N. Rowan HS) entered for the final play and lofted a hail mary pass that was deflected in a crowd to a waiting Bunn, who dove into the end zone.  The dramatic score sent Catawba to the locker room up 28-7.

Each team scored on their first possession of the second half.  Nelson Woods bolted in on a 31-yard run for Wingate, but Catawba answered right back when Dennis connected with Bunn from 27 yards away.  That catch gave Bunn a record as he topped seven others who had caught three scoring strikes in a game.

The Wingate special teams gave the Bulldogs a chance late in the game.  First, at the end third quarter, Timmy Rogers ran in a Josh Clawson blocked punt to cut the Catawba lead 35-21.  Then, in the fourth quarter, Rogers blocked a punt of his own that set the Bulldogs up at the Catawba 36 with 6:40 remaining.  Wingate converted as Haffly threw a 27-yard pass to Chris Bowden on fourth down to bring the Bulldogs within a touchdown with 5:28 left.

Catawba’s offense was able to keep the ball out of Haffly’s hands the rest of the way.  Dennis converted one third down on a sneak with three and half minutes left then hooked up with Bunn for a 46-yard gain with just over two minutes to play to ice the issue.  The 46 yards upped Bunn’s total to 247 receiving yards for the game which topped the previous mark of 215 yards set by Ike Hill in 1968.

Dennis finished 21-of-34 for 285 yards and four scores.  Griffith added the 52-yard pass at the end of the first half to give the Indians 337 yards in the air for the game.  Catawba was held to minus-nine yards rushing when Dennis ran out the final six seconds on a 19-yard loss.  Bunn had 10 total catches on the day.

Defensively, Catawba posted nine sacks and stopped the Bulldogs twice in the red zone without points.  Hartsell, Brandon Sutton (Snow Hill, NC/Greene Central HS) and Corey Steward (Chesapeake, VA/Oscar Smith HS) each had two sacks.  Kewone Harris (Durham, NC/Webb HS) stopped one Wingate chance with an interception in the end zone.  Linebacker Cory Johnson (Fayetteville, NC/Britt HS) led all tacklers with 17 stops and added a sack.

Haffly went 28-of-50 for the Bulldogs, while Woods ran 21 times for 82 yards.  Perry Floyd had nine catches for 93 yards.

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