NEW HOPE — In a battle of previously unbeatens, it was defending Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) co-champion and District 1/12 champ Bristol which failed to escape its Sunday night skirmish at New Hope-Solebury unscathed.
The Lions (3-0 overall, 2-0 BAL) stunned the Warrior faithful Sept. 15 at home, scoring twice early on big plays then putting together a pair of 70-plus yard punt returns by senior Dwight that went for touchdowns to earn a 35-32 triumph over the visitors.
Bristol (2-1, 1-1) won this game in just about every stat category but the final score, outpacing New Hope in first downs by a 24-5 margin, outgaining the Lions 270 to 137 yards on the ground and 382 to 92 through the air.
In the end, none of that mattered as Lions quarterback Connor Hayden scored on New Hope's first play from scrimmage on a 75-yard touchdown run, putting the home team on top, 7-0. Moments later on the Lions' second play on offense, Hayden hit Dwight with a 46-yard TD pass for a 14-0 edge.
If that wasn't enough to wake up the Warriors, then nothing would.
The Bristol beast finally awoken in the second quarter, Warriors senior QB Trevor Leone (19-34-4) tossed the first of three touchdown passes to WR Kyle Slivka-Fralin to get his team on the scoreboard.
Leone tossed another touchdown pass later in the quarter, this one good for 32 yards to junior WR Phil Krause and in between the TD aerials, Simmons notched the first of his two scoring runs on a night the 11th-grader rushed for over 260 yards on 34 carries.
But Bristol failed on all thee point-after attempts and before the break, Hayden connected on another 46-yard touchdown bomb, this one to New Hope-Solebury senior Jason DeVenuto that put the Lions on top 22-18 at the half. The Lions also got lucky on the extra point with Hayden picking up a bobbled snap and racing into the end zone for a 2-point conversion.
After the intermission, Dwight ignited the New Hope offense as well as a spirited audience with his two kick returns — one in each quarter — that went for touchdowns.
But the Warriors refused to die with Simmons reaching paydirt early in the fourth quarter on a one-yard plunge and Leone connecting with senior WR Tyriq Wilson streaking across the middle on a fourth-and-12 play with less than four minutes to go in the contest.
Breathing with one last gasp, the wind finally came out of the Bristol sails however when Lions senior linebacker Frank Covino snared the second of his two interceptions near midfield with 1.1 seconds left to hold off the Warriors and help seal a 35-32 victory.
With Bristol behind nearly the entire contest, Leone was forced to go to the air and he did well, accounting for 382 yards passing, though he tossed four interceptions in the gridiron battle. The Warriors also fumbled the ball five times though they gathered it back in on four of those occasions.
Wilson caught five passes, good for 154 yards and a score while Krause caught four balls for 73 yards and a TD.
Two more balls were caught by Simmons, accounting for 51 yards while junior Aiden Coughlin caught three for 37 yards. Slivka-Fralin (2-27, 1 TD), along with seniors Ryan Rigby (2-24) and Ryan Weinkopff (1-16) also got in on the passing game.
Hayden was the big star for New Hope, rushing 13 times for 125 yards and a touchdown, and throwing for two more scores in a 2-for-3 performance that accounted for 92 yards.
With just one interception and just a single fumble lost, the Lions won the turnover battle by a 1-5 margin and the game, for that matter.
NOTES: Bristol converted just one of five point-after conversions with Leone running to paydirt after the 81-yard catch-and-run by Wilson late in the fourth quarter.
New Hope-Solebury 35, Bristol 32
(Sept. 15 at NH-S)
Bristol 0 18 0 14 — 32
New Hope 14 8 7 6 — 35
NH-S: Hayden 75 run (Sutton kick)
NH-S: Dwight 46 pass from Hayden (Sutton kick)
B: Slivka-Fralin 19 pass from Leone (kick failed)
B: Simmons 1 run (run failed)
B: Krause 32 pass from Leone (kick failed)
NH-S: DeVenuto 46 pass from Hayden (Hayden run)
NH-S: Dwight 79 punt return (Sutton kick)
B: Simmons 1 run (pass failed)
NH-S: Dwight 72 punt return (kick blocked)
B: Wilson 81 pass from Leone (Leone run)