Bears ‘intercept’ Northern

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 9, 2006

AHOSKIE – Northern Nash had what seemed like a good idea.

The Knights reasoned that if Hertford County’s offense was on the sidelines, the Bears couldn’t score.

Rayshawn Mercer had other ideas.

Mercer picked off a Northern Nash pass moments after the Knights had recovered an onsides kick and seemed to be building momentum. Mercer took the pick to the house and increased Hertford County’s advantage to 41-20 as the Bears cruised to victory by that same margin.

The Knights had just gotten back into the game minutes before when they capitalized on one of three HCHS turnovers when Clay Connolly connected with Octavius Davis on a 15-yard strike. The touchdown pass sliced the Hertford County lead to 35-20.

Northern seemed poised to make a game of it when they recovered the ensuing onsides kick with just over seven minutes to play, but Mercer’s 50-yard interception return for a score sealed Hertford County’s fourth win in as many starts.

While that score preserved the win, it was a late-first quarter touchdown that posted the Bears to an early lead.

Danny Dembry hooked up on a 23-yard pass to LaMarcus &uot;Buck&uot; Jenkins with 5:34 to play to get HCHS on the board. That touchdown, capped by a Michael Burton PAT, capped a nine-play, 74-yard drive.

The score was one of three Dembry passes of more than 10 yards on the drive as he also had completions to Mercer (15 yards) and Michael Stephenson (20 yards) during the march to the endzone.

Leading 7-0 late in the first period, Hertford County set up shop on their own 32-yardline after forcing Northern Nash to turn the ball over on downs when Darren Everett recorded the first of his three sacks of Connolly.

It took the Bears one play to strike paydirt when Dembry scored on a 68-yard option keeper with 23 seconds to play in the quarter. Burton added the extra point to give HCHS a 14-0 lead after one period of play.

The HCHS defense, which had pitched five quarters of shutout football, saw the Knights end that streak midway through the second quarter when Octavious Davis punched it in from one-yard out to cap a three-play, 17-yard drive that was the result of a Hertford County turnover. Ben Ruffin added the conversion kick to trim the HCHS lead to 14-7.

Travis Greene, who continues to show himself the most improved player in the area, put the Bears back up by double figures moments later.

After Mercer returned the kickoff 51 yards, the Bears set up shop on the Northern Nash 24-yardline. Greene picked up 10 yards on second down and then, three plays later went in from 12 yards out. Burton added the PAT at the six-minute mark of the second quarter to give HCHS a 21-7 lead.

The Knights refused to quit, however, bouncing back to score on their next possession.

Davis was the workhorse on the drive, picking up 27 yards including the last three for the score with just 1:58 to play in the first half. Ruffin’s kick made it 21-14, which it would remain through the first half.

The offense for HCHS coach Greg Watford’s team was the reason Northern would try to keep Dembry and company off the field late in the contest.

The Bears scored twice in the second half before the Knights could pick up so much as a first down.

After forcing a Northern Nash punt to open the second half, the Bears set up shop at their own 35-yardline early in the third quarter. The Knight defense stiffened and forced an HCHS punt.

The Bear defense returned the favor a minute later and then, following a bad snap, the Bears pounced Ruffin at the 12-yardline.

On the next play Laquan Tann went 12 yards to paydirt which, coupled with Burton’s fourth extra point of the night, gave HCHS a 28-14 lead with 5:07 to play in the third period.

After an exchange of possessions, Defensive Coordinator Bryan Morings’ squad came up big again, stopping Northern on a fourth-and-one from at midfield.

It took only three plays before Offensive Coordinator Brian Overton’s unit made their counterparts efforts pay off.

After an 18-yard run by Tann, Greene scampered 30 yards to paydirt to give HCHS a 35-14 lead.

That lead would hold up until late in the contest when the Knights made their run and were stopped by Mercer’s interception.

The win boosts HCHS to 4-0 on the season as they head into next week’s showdown with Rocky Mount. The Gryphons are the state’s top-ranked 3-A club.

Score By Quarters

NN – 0 – 14 – 0 – 6

HCHS – 14 – 7 – 7 – 13

Scoring Summary

HCHS – LaMarcus Jenkins, 23-yard pass from Danny Dembry; Michael Burton kick; 5:34 1st

HCHS – Dembry, 68-yard run; Burton kick; 0:23 1st

NN – Octavius Davis, 1-yard run; Ben Ruffin kick; 7:31 2nd

HCHS – Travis Greene, 12-yard run; Burton kick; 6:00 2nd

NN – Davis, 3-yard run; Ruffin kick; 1:58 2nd

HCHS – LaQuan Tann, 12-yard run; Burton kick; 5:07 3rd

HCHS – Greene, 30-yard run; Burton kick; 10:10 4th

NN – Davis, 15-yard pass from Clay Connolly; kick failed; 7:18 4th

HCHS – Rayshawn Mercer, 50-yard interception return; kick failed; 6:14 4th


Hertford County – Danny Dembry 5 – 78; Travis Greene 5 – 52; Rayshawn Mercer 7 – 48; LaQuan Tann 8 – 30

Northern – Octavius Davis 20 – 59


Hertford County – Mercer 2 – 17, Jenkins 1 – 23, Michael Stephenson 1 – 20

Northern – Toncellis Davis 1 – 22


Hertford County – Dembry 4-9-0, 59

Northern – Clay Connolly 4-7-1, 63