Bertie holds off West Craven

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 17, 2007

WINDSOR – How important is sportsmanship?

It could have been the difference in advancing to the third round of the playoffs or going home here last night (Friday).

With Bertie holding a 14-7 lead early in the fourth quarter, Marc B. Lewis scampered 52 yards on a punt return, scoring for West Craven and giving the Eagles a chance to tie the game. The Eagles, however, were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play and forced to try a 35-yard extra point, which was blocked.

The result was that Bertie played with the lead the rest of the way and held on to defeat West Craven 20-13 and advance to the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs.

The Falcons were in a tough contest throughout as, despite taking an early 14-0 lead, the game was in doubt until the final play.

It was on the shoulders of senior quarterback Desmond Williams to help advance his team to the next round and he did just that, accounting for 247 of the Falcons’ 328 yards of total offense.

With the game only a one-score affair late in the fourth quarter, neither team could move the football on a consistent basis.

The two teams exchanged three punts before West Craven got the ball on their own 37-yardline with just over five minutes to play in the contest.

After three plays, the Eagles faced a fourth-and-two from their own 45-yardline. Head Coach Clay Jordan decided to take his gamble there, but Dominique Cherry wrestled Marc C. Lewis to the ground behind the line of scrimmage to give Bertie possession of the pigskin.

After an illegal substitution penalty moved them back five yards, the Falcons set sail on a eight-play, 47-yard drive to seal the victory.

It was Williams doing the damage early, but the key play came when senior Kevin Swain scampered 21 yards on fourth-and-two to give Bertie a first down at the Eagles’ 12-yardline.

Just three plays later, Williams found paydirt with 22 seconds left to play.

The conversion, however, failed and left West Craven down by just seven points.

The Eagles got the ball on their own 45-yardline after a short kickoff and got as far as the Bertie 40-yardline, but quarterback Bret Mooring’s pass was intercepted by Brandon Brown on the last play of the game, sealing the victory for Bertie.

The Falcons got on the board early, but not as quickly as it may have appeared when they took the opening kickoff and drove deep into West Craven territory.

Using a combination of Williams’ arm and Swain’s legs, Bertie got to the 38-yardline, but was forced to punt the ball away.

After an exchange of punts, the Falcons got the football at their own 35-yardline. On the first play from scrimmage, Williams followed behind his offensive line and broke into the open, rambling 64 yards before he was tackled at the one yardline.

On the next play, Swain put the ball in the endzone and Bertie led 8-0 with just 3:31 to play in the first quarter.

On West Craven’s next possession, the Eagles drove to the Bertie 28-yardline, but Tarquin Fogg picked off a Moorings aerial to give the Falcons the ball back.

After two plays for no net gain, Williams found Fogg for a gain of 22 yards to the 38-yardline. On the next play, he hooked up with Brandon Brown, who rumbled 54 yards to the Eagles’ six-yardline.

It took three plays before Williams scored on a one-yard plunge to make the score 14-0.

West Craven got another drive going on their next possession, but came up short on a fourth down play. The Falcons, however, gave the ball right back when Jimmy Gross picked off a pass from Williams.

After an exchange of punts, West Craven took over at their own 46-yardline and marched down the field. The big play on the drive was a 26-yard toss from Moorings to Ryan Murphy.

After moving to the 10-yardline, the Eagles faced a fourth-and-three, but Moorings and Murphy hooked up again for the scoring strike.

Murphy added the PAT and trimmed the lead to 14-7, where it stayed through the intermission.

The win boosted the Falcons, seeded fifth in the 3-A playoffs, to 10-3 overall. It is their first 10-win season under Head Coach Tony Hoggard and their first one since Roy Bond retired as coach.

Bertie will travel to top-rated Western Alamance next week.