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BRUNSSUM, Netherlands - Defending Division II champion Bitburg lived up to its preseason billing with a 40-12 victory Saturday over host AFNORTH.

“Bitburg demonstrated they are still the team to beat in Division II-North,” AFNORTH coach Greg Blankenship said in an e-mail after Cory Evans ran for three touchdowns and 125 yards on just six carries. “… Evans broke free from multiple AFNORTH tacklers to score on three long touchdown runs that sealed the fate of the young Lion team.”

Bitburg’s Kyle Edgar rushed 11 times for 84 yards and two TDs; E.J. Matos, who carried six times for 75 yards, added the other Bitburg touchdown.

AFNORTH trailed 26-0 in the third quarter, before quarterback Jacob Reynolds, who rushed for 44 yards, scored to break the ice for the Lions. Reynolds, 7-of-18 for 140 yards, then hit Matt Byre (four catches for 88 yards) with a TD pass that cut AFNORTH’s deficit to 26-12.

The team’s resilience encouraged its coach.

“(AFNORTH) played much better in the second half and proved they will grow to be a force in Division II-North,” Blankenship reported. “We are now a much better team.”

Bitburg, however, shut AFNORTH down the rest of the way behind a defense led by Zach Nichols (15 tackles), and Gary Horn and Austin Schmidt (10 each).

Tony Norman led AFNORTH with 17 stops; teammate Andrew Carrigan-Johnson added 11.

Next up for Bitburg is a home game against ISB on Saturday; AFNORTH hosts Mannheim the same day.

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