Northeastern stuns Hertford County

Published 12:35 pm Monday, September 29, 2008

AHOSKIE – The Bears picked a bad time to hit a lull.

After opening the season 4-0, Hertford County High School’s football team suffered their second straight setback here last night (Friday). The Bears lost to Northeastern High School 39-33 at home during their Northeastern Coastal Conference opener.

It didn’t take long for the upset-minded Eagles to make their intentions known as they scored on their opening drive of the game.

Northeastern used a steady running game to move the football down the field. The big play came when Lavar James went 23 yards from the HCHS 41-yardline all the way to the 18. Three plays later, Eagles’ quarterback Shane Paris connected with James to move the ball to the one. On the next play, Devon Hyder found paydirt to give Northeastern a 6-0 lead.

After the Bears went three-and-out and punted, they forced the Eagles to do the same. Ron Gatling took the Northeastern punt 27 yards down to the Northeastern 21-yardline. On the next play, Gatling went the 21 yards to paydirt to tie the game. Richard Burns added the PAT to make it 7-6 in favor of the Bears.

The Eagles came right back, however, taking the next possession and going 80 yards on 12 plays to reclaim the lead. Paris completed four passes on the drive for a total of 37 yards, but it was again the ground game that scored for Northeastern. After getting the ball to the 23-yardline, the Eagles used runs from James, Tyler Barrington and Hyder to get the ball to the one. From there, Mason James found the endzone and, coupled with Kyle Craft’s kick, Northeastern took a 13-7 advantage.

The Bears again came back quickly, scoring on their next drive to take the lead back.

On the first play from scrimmage, Gatling took the ball 16 yards to the Northeastern 44-yardline. After a loss and a penalty, HCHS quarterback Antonio Vaughan scampered 18 yards for the Bears. Gatling then had runs of zero, nine and 11 yards before Markee White scored on an 18-yard run. Burns added the conversion kick and HCHS led 14-13 with 9:36 to play in the second quarter.

The score stayed the same until late in the first half when a Northeastern interception by Dequan Rouson was returned to the 48-yardline, but two Hertford County penalties on the play (face mask and unsportsmanlike conduct) moved the ball to the HCHS 18-yadrline.

On the first play from scrimmage, Paris went 17 yards to the one. After an incompletion, Paris connected with Donte White on a touchdown pass. The conversion kick was good with just six ticks left on the second quarter clock, giving Northeastern a 20-14 halftime lead.

After forcing an HCHS punt to open the second half, Northeastern went ahead by two scores.

Hyder opened the drive with a 21-yard gainer before Mason James had back-to-back carries of 23 and 16 yards to move the ball to the Hertford County 16-yardline.

Following an HCHS penalty, the Eagles took four plays to get in the endzone. They finally found paydirt on a Hyder one-yard plunge. The kick failed and Northeastern led 26-14.

Hertford County wasted no time responding. After back-to-back five yard gains, the Bears got a 43-yard run from Shea Tann with 5:27 to play in the third quarter. The conversion run failed, but the Bears were within 26-20.

After forcing a Northeastern punt, the Bears reclaimed the lead with 2:23 to play in the third quarter. Vaughan rumbled 55 yards on third down for the Bears and moved the football all the way to the one-yardline. White punched it in from there and that, coupled with Burns’ PAT, gave Hertford County a 27-26 lead.

Early in the fourth quarter, Northeastern took the lead for good. The Eagles mounted an 11-play, 69-yard drive that was capped on a one-yard score by Paris. The conversion pass failed, but Northeastern led 32-27.

Hertford County’s next possession proved to be a disaster. On the first play from scrimmage, the ball was snapped over Vaughan’s head and William Ellison recovered the fumble in the endzone for Northeastern. The defensive score and Craft’s kick gave the Eagles a 39-27 lead.

The Bears scored a late touchdown when Gatling found paydirt from 10 yards out. The conversion kick failed and Northeastern held a 39-33 lead. The Bears attempted an onsides kick to no avail and the Eagles were able to run the last two minutes off the clock.

The contest was just as even statistically as it was on the scoreboard. Northeastern had 356 yards of total offense compared to 351 for the Bears. The Eagles covered 271 yards on the ground led by Hyder’s 145-yard effort. HCHS had 346 yards on the ground paced by 151 from Gatling and 122 from Vaughan.

HCHS (4-2, 0-1) will have to bounce back next week as they travel to Edenton, who also started 0-1 in the league with a 12-7 loss to Bertie.