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Bears ‘explode’ over Gryphons

AHOSKIE – The fireworks at Ahoskie’s annual Heritage Day Festival got underway at around 9:20 p.m. last night (Friday).

The pigskin version of those pyrotechnics actually began about 90 minutes earlier about 10 blocks to the north.

Unleashing an offensive juggernaut that scored early and often, Hertford County High School finally got the Rocky Mount “monkey” off their back as the Bears stunned the state’s third-ranked Gryphons, 41-21, on Friday night in front of a huge crowd gathered at Bears Stadium.

In racking up 364 yards of total offense, the Bears (now 4-0) won for the first time against Rocky Mount in a series that dates back to 2004. And it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time as HCHS was on the home turf for the first time in ’09 after playing three straight road games to open the season.

“This was a big win for us,” said a happy HCHS head coach Scott Privott following the game. “This will make our young men believe in what we’re trying to do. I’m proud of my kids. All we’re looking to do is show improvement from week to week and we showed that again tonight.”

As lopsided as the final score turned out to be, this game was decided by an HCHS score late in the second quarter followed by the Bears taking the opening kick to start the second half and mounting a scoring drive that put the home team on top by three TD’s.

Nursing a narrow 21-14 lead with under five minutes to play in the first half, the Bears set sail on an eight-play, 67-yard drive capped by Markee White’s 11-yard run and Brandon Warren’s PAT with 70 seconds left in the opening half. The drive was sparked by senior quarterback Antonio Vaughan’s pair of elusive scrambles of 28 and 21 yards. Vaughan finished the night with 239 total yards, 149 of which came on the game, making him the game’s leading rusher.

The Bears received the kickoff to open the second half and mounted another long drive, this one covering 59 yards in 10 plays. Senior running back Ron Gatling got that drive off on the right foot with a 19-yard gallop. Nine plays later (on a 4th-and-9 play from the Rocky Mount 12), Vaughan tossed a pass into the endzone in the direction of Darnell Vaughan. The ball bounced off a Rocky Mount defender, but D. Vaughan kept his focus and made a diving grab for a touchdown. The PAT failed, but the Bears were in command, leading 34-14 with 7:48 left in the third quarter.

Both teams struck paydirt in the final period. Rocky Mount tallied their lone points of the second half on a 10-yard TD run by Marquavis Alston with 4:29 left in the game.

HCHS answered with a 54-yard drive, ending with A. Vaughan’s 15-yard scoring run and Ansley Lassiter’s PAT to account for the 41-21 finale.

The Bears lit the fuse on their offensive fireworks early, racing out to a 21-0 lead.

Two of those scores came in the first quarter – White striking paydirt on a 12-yard TD run (a score set-up by D’Isaac Jordan’s 73-yard fumble return) and Gatling’s 10-yard scoring jaunt.

Gatling went on to finish the game with 62 rushing yards while White added 54.

HCHS extended its lead to 21-0 at the 8:01 mark of the second quarter. There, Gatling bulled his way into the endzone from six yards out followed by Warren’s successful PAT.

Rocky Mount finally got their offense untracked later in the second period thanks to Jordan Ford who scored a pair of touchdowns on runs of 10 and 8 yards.

The Bears travel to Fayetteville next Friday for a clash at Terry Sanford High School.