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HCHS streak ends

ELIZABETH CITY – The streak is over.

After 13 consecutive Northeastern Coastal Conference wins, Hertford County High School lost their first league game since the 2005 season here last night (Friday) where missed opportunities cost the Bears dearly in a 26-25 setback at Pasquotank High School.

Ironically, the last time HCHS lost a league game was also a one-point (21-20) defeat at the hands of Edenton.

This loss was a bitter pill to swallow, especially in the fact that the Bears failed to convert a two-point conversion with 4:35 left in the contest. HCHS also missed a field goal in the second quarter where the kick hit the left upright.

To make matters worse, the Bears suffered two turnovers, including a game-sealing interception at their own 40 yardline with 96 seconds remaining. Pasquotank then ran out the clock to pull off the upset of the league’s top-ranked team.

Trailing 26-19, the Bears did fight their way back into the game. Thanks to Michael Stephenson’s 48-yard kickoff return, HCHS started a drive at the Pasquotank 31 yardline with 5:28 left in the contest. From there it only took the Bears four plays to find the endzone with Markee White finishing off the final nine yards to paydirt.

HCHS head coach Diego Hasty signaled for a time-out at that point, considering the option to kick for the tie or go for two and a possible win. Hasty chose the latter and on the play, quarterback Antonio Vaughan rolled left and had Darnell Vaughan open in the endzone but the pass fell short.

Pasquotank managed 37 yards on their next possession, draining nearly three precious minutes off the clock before punting. The punt rolled into the endzone, giving HCHS the ball at their own 20 with 1:42 left. However, on their first snap from that point, Pasquotank defender Andre Dashiell picked off A. Vaughan’s pass and the Panthers ran out the clock to preserve the one-point upset.

The preceding three and one-half quarters were just as tight as the final score.

Pasquotank struck first on a nine-yard TD pass from Marcus White to Darius Hayward at the 9:10 mark of the opening period. Cordero Riddick added the PAT.

The Bears answered on the game’s ensuing possession, driving 62 yards in 10 plays capped by A. Vaughan’s one-yard run. The PAT failed, but HCHS had drawn to within 7-6 at the 3:26 mark of the first quarter.

The Panthers scored the only touchdown of the second quarter and led 13-6 at halftime thanks to Rashad Mercer’s 20-yard run. The PAT kick failed.

HCHS tied the game at 13-13 on their first possession of the second half. There, White’s six-yard scoring run capped a 68-yard, 13-play drive. Richard Burns deadlocked the game with his PAT with 4:33 left in the third quarter.

After an exchange of punts, Pasquotank surged back into the lead with 9:37 left in the game where Hayward found the endzone on a one-yard run. The PAT failed, leaving the Panthers with a 19-13 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Stephenson gathered the ball in at his own nine, started up the middle and cut right. Ninety-one yards later he stood in the endzone, tying the game at 19-19 after a bad snap on the PAT didn’t give Burns a chance to kick his team into the lead.

But Pasquotank wouldn’t be denied on their homecoming night. The Panthers scored on their next possession, driving 56 yards in eight plays with White hitting Mercer for a 23-yard TD pass and Riddick’s PAT giving the home team the lead for-keeps with 5:33 left.

HCHS finished with 211 total yards led by White’s 75 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Pasquotank tallied 254 total yards. Hayward led that effort with 26 carries for 135 yards.

The Bears (7-2 overall, 3-1 in league action) will have this week off before returning to the gridiron on Oct. 26 at First Flight.