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Falcons manhandle Panthers 32-20

WINDSOR – Sometimes good enough has to be.

Such was the case last night (Friday) when Bertie was good enough in the third quarter to pull off a 32-20 victory and post Northeastern Coastal Conference win number eight in a row.

The defending league champions struggled early, but scored twice in the third quarter and once early in the fourth to pull away to the victory over Pasquotank County High School.

The Falcons trailed 8-2 midway until late in the second quarter when junior running back La’Manuel Murphy capped a 16-play, 68-yard drive by scoring from 13 yards out. Raymond Hooker, who was the workhorse on the drive (10 carries and 54 yards), added the two-point conversion to give the Falcons a 10-8 lead.

The Panthers appeared ready to answer on their next drive when they marched to the seven-yardline before Chris Richardson picked off a Bryson Barnes pass in the endzone to end the threat and send the Falcons to the locker room with a two-point edge.

The Falcons wasted no time getting on the board in the second half. After Lester Miller recovered a Pasquotank fumble at the 12-yardline, it took just two plays for BHS to find the endzone. Hooker was dropped for a loss on the first play, but Murphy scampered 15 yards to paydirt on the next play. The run failed, but Bertie led 16-8.

A big kickoff return by William Dunton gave the Panthers great field position on the next drive as they started at the Bertie 30-yardline. After four plays produced only two yards, PCHS surrendered the ball on downs.

The Falcons then marched 72 yards on just five plays to extend their lead. Facing third-and-eight, Bertie quarterback Torrence Mourning connected with Darrius Wesson on a 40-yard pass completion to move deep into Pasquotank territory. Two plays later, Murphy scored from 15 yards out. Mourning then completed his conversion pass to Phillip Perry and the Falcons led 24-8 with 6:03 to play in the third quarter.

A Panther miscue set up Bertie’s final touchdown. While attempting to punt, the snap sailed over the punter’s head and Eric Darden was forced to fall on the ball at the Pasquotank 22-yardline.

Bertie took just three plays, all runs by Murhpy, to find the endzone. The scoring run came on a 16-yard scamper. Mourning then found Keon Moore for the conversion and Bertie led 32-8.

Pasquotank wasn’t finished, however, as they rallied to score on their next drive. The first play on that drive was a 22-yard pass from Barnes to Tracy Cooper. Dunton then added a 15-yard gainer to move the ball to the Bertie 21-yardline.

Barnes then found Darden on a nine-yard gainer to move the ball to the 12-yardline. With the ball still at that point, Pasquotank faced a fourth-and-one. Dunton appeared to have picked up the first down, but fumbled the ball. The Panthers fell on the football at the one-yardline to give them a first down.

On the next play, Dunton scored. The conversion failed, leaving Bertie ahead 32-14.

After forcing a Falcon punt that was partially blocked, the Panthers got good field position when the Bertie bench was assessed a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. The fourth such penalty of the night for the Falcons gave the Panthers the football at the Bertie 40.

From there, Barnes found Darden on a 40-yard touchdown strike. The conversion pass failed, but the Panthers had trimmed the lead to 32-20.

After recovering an onsides kick, the Panthers appeared to have scored again with under three minutes to play, but the touchdown strike was called back due to offensive pass interference.

Two plays later, Richardson sealed the game with an interception that he returned to the Pasquotank 20-yardline. From there, the Falcons were able to run out the clock.

The Falcons totaled 329 yards in total offense, 279 of which came on the ground. Murphy led the Falcons with 96 yards on 20 carries while Hooker had 76 yards on 18 carries.

Mourning completed 3-of-4 passes for 50 yards.

The Falcons held Pasquotank to just 17 net rushing yards and 137 total yards.

Bertie got on the board first in the contest. The Falcons drove to the Pasquotank nine and then surrendered the ball on downs. On the ensuing offensive play, the ball was snapped over Barnes’ head and he was forced to take a safety which put Bertie ahead 2-0 with 4:51 to play in the first quarter.

Pasquotank took the lead early in the second quarter. The Panthers drove 49 yards on six plays, aided by a pair of offsides penalties against the Falcons. Barnes found paydirt when he connected with Devonte Cummings from 28 yards out. Dunton added the conversion to give the Panthers an 8-2 lead.