Either the Hunter High football team is full of a bunch of masochists or the Wolverines just love to torture their poor coaching staff.
Whatever the case, they spent a good portion of Friday night shooting themselves in their collective feet. Still, the Wolverines somehow managed to hold onto their No. 1-ranking with a count-your-lucky-stars 19-14 win over a very good Bingham team.Hunter coach John Lambourne could only smile and shake his head after his team's impressive-yet-shaky-at-times performance.
The Wolverines committed a slew of penalties, including the dreadful too-many-men infraction several times and a face-mask after stopping Bingham on fourth down on the one-inch line. They missed two PATs - a kick and a pass play. They dropped a pass in the end zone on fourth down. They had to call a timeout before the fourth quarter even started. They had two interceptions and two fumbles.
And they won anyway.
"If we expect to be true state contenders and the true No. 1 team in the state, we've gotta stop doing that," Lambourne said. "That's what I'll tell the kids."
In the end, Hunter was saved from itself by a player who wasn't even allowed to watch their last three games.
Joe Lomu scored his second touchdown of the game in a most spectacular and timely fashion. His nifty 55-yard TD reception from quarterback Jason Reilly put the Wolverines up for good with just over two minutes remaining.
Lomu had not been able to play or practice for two weeks and a total of three games because of a school suspension.
He came back with a vengeance against the second-ranked Miners.
"I was telling my team yesterday, `You gotta be ready for the whole new Joe Lomu,' " he said.
Lomu scored his first touchdown, a 14-yard run, on Hunter's impressive opening drive. He had to break about three tackles to make it into the end zone.
The biggest benefit of having Lomu back is that it allows the Wolverines to switch him and star running back David Fiefia. Together they are as dangerous a duo as there is in the state. They combined for about 200 yards rushing - 106 by Fiefia, 90 by Lomu.
Fiefia scored the Wolverines' other TD and looked an awful lot like his hero, Barry Sanders, while doing so. Fiefia zigged and zagged and side-stepped and criss-crossed through defenders all over the field en route to a highlight-reel 39-yard TD in the third.
However, he then missed the point-after kick, leaving the Wolverines up 13-7. The miss was almost a costly one, as Bingham's Tim Provost scored his second touchdown late in the third quarter to put the Miners up 14-13.
Both defenses held serve until Lomu finally broke loose down the left sideline after juking a couple Miners late in the game.
"I saw all the Bingham players coming at me full speed, and I knew I was going to score," Lomu said. "I took a cutback move and then I was gone."
Reilly outdueled Bingham's more-highly touted quarterback, Jake Schroeder. Reilly threw for 227 yards on 14-for-24 passing. Schroeder, who was hounded by Hunter's tough defense, was 10-for-23 for 65 yards.
Hunter improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in Region 2 play. Bingham dropped to 5-1, 3-1.