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No. 1 Bridgeport answers Lincoln wakeup call, wins 42-7

by Rob Peirce

SPORTS WRITER

SHINNSTON -- Class AA No. 1 Bridgeport wasn't on top of its game for most of the first half of Friday's game against Lincoln.

It stepped up momentarily when Lincoln's Cody Wilt threw a 25-yard pass to James McAtee to put the ball at the Indian 1.

The Indians were further challenged when Ryan Hamrick scored on the next play, reducing their lead to 14-7.

But they finally reverted to form five plays later, when Bridgeport's Jeremy Hinzman busted loose on a 47-yard TD run. The Indians (6-0) took a 21-7 halftime lead and scored 21 second-half points to cruise to a 42-7 victory over Lincoln (1-5).

"I knew I had to do something to get the corral going," Hinzman said. "Our minds just weren't right. We weren't in the game until they busted us in the mouth. Then we kind of realized it was going to be a little bit of a game. We had to play."

Brian Berry scored the first two TDs for Bridgeport from 3 and 7 yards away, and the Indians jumped to a 14-0 lead.

The Cougars stayed alive, thanks to Wilt's passing game. On their scoring drive, he threw for 65 yards, often times looking like a javelin thrower. The pass to McAtee was the back-breaker.

"Lincoln just busted us," Bridgeport coach Bruce Carey said. "We couldn't get the ball back. They were hitting those little hooks and curls on us. And that's our linebackers' job to get back there."

On that particular drive, the Cougar offense improvised, Lincoln coach Jimmy Lopez said.

"I thought I saw something defensively that we might be able to attack," he said. "We just kind of drew a play in the dirt, and it worked. We were lucky enough to stick it in the end zone."

Bridgeport stuck it in the end zone three times in the third quarter. Hinzman scored again from 20 yards away, quarterback Chris Lindsey scrambled for a 51-yard TD run and Joel Horne scored from 5 yards out.

Hinzman rushed nine times for 120 yards, and Berry collected 101 yards on 10 carries.

But the key to the second half was the Indians' depth, Lopez said.

"They wore us down," he said. "Our kids gave 110 percent, but they're so deep that they keep throwing fresh jerseys at you, and eventually they're going to wear you down."

The Cougars played with emotion after they scored, and that made them dangerous to Bridgeport, Carey said.

"We told them all week you can't take anybody lightly," he said. "Any team with emotion is going to be in the game."

Hinzman admitted the possibility that the Indians might have overlooked Lincoln and instead saw next week's anticipated match-up against Class AAA No. 7 Robert C. Byrd, also undefeated.

"That's very possible," he said. "A lot of people were doing that. Lincoln was 1-4, and we were looking on to R.C. Byrd already, which we shouldn't have done, but now it's time to look forward to Byrd."

Sports writer Rob Peirce can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at sports@exponent-telegram.com.

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