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Bears roll late

AHOSKIE – As the fireworks from Ahoskie Heritage Day boomed in the distance, Hertford County High School’s football team exploded in their own right here last night (Friday).

Antonio Vaughan tossed three touchdown passes and Ron Gatling and A.J. Francis each rushed for over 100 yards, lighting the fuse on a Bears offense that torched the scoreboard for 27, second half points en route to a 49-20 win over visiting Currituck.

“I thought all our backs ran well,” HCHS skipper Diego Hasty said after watching his club improve to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the Northeastern Coastal Conference. “I think our size up front finally wore Currituck down in the fourth quarter. Up until then, I really didn’t know which way this game would swing.”

The coach was right as Currituck, undefeated coming into the game, gave the Bears a fit in the third quarter.

Trailing 22-7, the visiting Knights took the kick-off to open the second half and set sail on an eight play, 65-yard drive capped by Brian Lesinski’s 16-yard TD pass to Antwan Woodley. Daniel Hines added the PAT, helping to slice the HCHS lead to 22-14 at the 9:18 mark of the third quarter.

After a three-and-out by the Bears, Currituck mounted another scoring drive, this one a three-play, 45-yard march that ended with Lesinski’s 26-yard scoring strike to Shea Kirkwood. The conversion run failed, but the Knights had thrown a hush over the large HCHS homecoming crowd as they only trailed by two (22-20) with 6:16 left in the third period.

“We came out to start the second half with no intensity and let them back in the game,” Hasty said.

Finally, someone found the HCHS fuse and the offense “lit-up” the scoreboard as the Bears scored on each of their next three offensive possessions.

The first of those three straight scores came on a seven-play, 77-yard drive. The biggest play was the longest play of the march as Francis scampered 47 yards to paydirt. Coupled with Richard Burns’ PAT, the Bears extended their lead to 29-20 with a shade under three minutes left in the period.

With the defense finally figuring out a way to slow down Currituck’s no-huddle offense, the Bears then dropped the hammer on their guests.

It became a 36-20 game thanks to Markee White’s one-yard TD run with 7:17 left in the contest. That capped a nine-play, 55-yard drive after the HCHS defense stopped a fake punt by Currituck.

Five minutes later the Bears were in the endzone again, this time on Vaughan’s eight-yard TD pass to Michael Stephenson. Burns added the PAT for a 43-20 advantage.

The defense accounted for the game’s final touchdown as Marcus Burnell picked-off a Lesinski pass and darted 12 yards to paydirt with 1:54 left.

The Bears grabbed a 16-0 lead by the second quarter thanks to a pair of Vaughan scoring passes n 33 yards to Lamar Monger and two yards to Darnell Vaughan. Burns added both PAT’s.

The other two points came when Lesinski was flagged for intentional grounding in the endzone.

Currituck’s only score of the first half came on Tim Vinick’s nine-yard TD run.

The Bears came right back to make it a 22-7 halftime lead thanks to an 80-yard drive in eight plays. Highlighted by Vaughan’s 29-yard scamper and his 15-yard pass to Stephenson, the scoring honors went to Gatling on a 13-yard run.

Gatling went on to finish as the game’s leading rusher with 116 yards on 17 carries. Francis added 106 yards on nine attempts.

Vaughan was 5-for-5 passing for 60 yards and added 82 rushing yards.

Lesinski paced Currituck with 103 total yards (77 passing and 26 rushing).

The Bears will visit Pasquotank High School next Friday (Oct. 12) in a 7:30 p.m. conference game.