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Falcons fall at home

WINDSOR – Big plays.

They made the difference Friday night in Windsor as Nash Central came into the Bertie house and held off a Falcons comeback to post a 22-14 win over the home team. It left both teams with a record on the young season of 1-3.

The visiting Bulldogs used a 68-yard run on their first play from scrimmage and never looked back. Bertie always seemed within a big play of their own of grabbing control of the game but it never came. Despite a fiery halftime speech from coach Tony Hoggard the Falcons seemed lifeless at times.

“When you don’t come ready to work every day and you don’t have that sense of urgency this is what happens to you,” said a disappointed Hoggard after the game motioning toward the scoreboard. “We didn’t focus and we just weren’t mentally in the game.”

The Falcons finished the night with 123 yards rushing. Sophomore Corbin Rascoe carried the ball 16 times for 86 yards and a touchdown while senior Darrius Moody had 10 rushes for 24 yards and Bertie’s other score. Defensively, senior linebacker Keon Fogg had 14 tackles while Isaiah Allen had an interception.

After a return of the opening kickoff to their own 32 yard line, Nash Central quarterback Dominique Holloway, who finished with 178 yards rushing, called his own number on a keeper and had his team on the scoreboard 68 yards later before most of the fans had even settled in their seats. A point-after by Jake Kennedy had the visitors up, 7-0, with only 12 seconds of play-time ticked off the clock.

Bertie seemed unfazed however, as Moody took the Nash Central kick at the 14-yard line and returned it 76 yards to the Bulldogs’ ten-yard line. He then picked up five yards more yards on his first carry from scrimmage and the Falcons were poised to get the equalizer at the five yard line, but on the next play Moody was dropped in the backfield leaving Bertie six yards from paydirt.

However, Torrence Mourning, making his first start at quarterback for regular starter Keon Moore who was sidelined with an injury, lost two more yards on the next play, then on fourth down had a pass sail high in the end zone and the Falcons missed a great opportunity only to come away empty.

With the ball going over on downs, Nash was unable to gain significant ground and had to punt the ball away. Bertie did not let the new opportunity slip away. Rascoe took a pitch from Mourning, sidestepped a tackler in the flat and once he got to the outside, outraced the defense to the end zone to pull the Falcons within one. The extra-point was missed, however, leaving Bertie behind, 7-6, a little more than four minutes into the game.

Nash Central took the Bertie kickoff to midfield and eight plays later were stopped at the Bertie 20-yard line. Kennedy came on for a 27-yard field goal attempt, but his effort sailed just left of the uprights and the Bertie defense had held.

The Falcons could not capitalize, however, as Moody was stopped on Bertie’s first play from scrimmage. On the next play from the Bertie 16-yard line, the Falcons fumbled and Bulldogs’ defensive end Mason Wallace fell on it at the 14.

But Bertie dodged a bullet as Charles Rollins came in to quarterback and on his first play floated a pass toward the end-zone that was picked off at the one-yard line by the Falcons’ Allen who returned it to the six-yard line. A penalty on the next play though backed Bertie up to the three yard line.

Next came a strange couple of plays that may have crushed Bertie’s spirit: Moody took a pitch on the sweep and headed between the tackles on the right side. However, he squirmed his way between the defenders, but the referee inadvertedly blew an early whistle effectively killing the play and making it a do-over.

On the next play Moody tried his left side, but was hemmed up and dropped in the end zone for a safety and a 9-6 Nash Central lead that held to the end of the quarter.

“Refs make mistakes,” said Hoggard afterward. “They’re human like everybody else, but we can’t rest it on that. If we’d executed like we should we wouldn’t have even been in that situation.”

Nash Central added a pair of field goals to make it 15-6 at halftime.

The Bulldogs went 70 yards on 10 plays on their first possession of the second half to make the score 22-6. Bertie then put together a long drive of their own thru to the fourth quarter that was capped by a Moody one-yard plunge and the Falcons had hope with five and a half minutes to play. Bertie’s two-point conversion left them eight points back at 22-14.

Bertie opted for a short kick on the ensuing kickoff, giving Nash Central good field position at their own 38 yard line. It looked as if the strategy might have worked as the Bulldogs were forced to punt, except that Bertie ran into the kicker allowing Nash Central to hang onto the football and run out the clock for their first win of the year.

“We had them and just let them off the hook,” sighed Hoggard. “This really isn’t Bertie football and now it’s time to focus on a conference championship starting with Edenton.”