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Falcons fall on Senior Night

WINDSOR – It was a tall Senior Night task for the Falcons.

The Bertie High School varsity football team welcomed First Flight High School, who sits tied atop the Northeastern Coastal Conference standings last night (Friday) as they celebrated both Senior Night and the official dedication of Roy L. Bond Jr. Stadium.

While battling through a solid first half, it wasn’t enough as Bertie came up on the short side of a 26-14 final.

It appeared the Falcons would get started quickly in the contest as they picked up first downs on the first three offensive plays of the game. Darius Moody had consecutive carries of 16, 11 and 20 yards to move the football from the Bertie 26-yardline to the First Flight 27-yardline.

From there, however, the drive stalled as Bertie picked up only three yards on the next three plays and then turned the ball over on downs when a fourth down pass fell incomplete.

The Falcon defense rose to the occasion too, forcing First Flight to a three-and-out as the league’s second most potent scoring offense was held at bay.

When they got the football back, the Falcons again moved it on the ground. Twice on the drive, Falcons mentor Tony Hoggard elected to go for it on fourth down, once at their own 27 and again at their own 40. Both times the Falcons executed and moved the chains.

The drive came to an abrupt end, however, when a fumble was recovered by Dalton Robertson as the Nighthawks took over on the Bertie 46-yardline.

It took First Flight nine plays to drive the 46 yards, but Brady Macko punched it in from one yard out with four-tenths of one second left in the first quarter. Geoff Pace added the point after and First Flight led 7-0.

Bertie appeared to have come right back when Corbin Rascoe returned the kickoff 85 yards for an apparent touchdown. A penalty, however, caused the score to be negated and Bertie took over on their own 29-yardline.

Following two minimal gains, the Falcons went to the airways on third down as quarterback Keon Moore connected with Isaac Allen on a 19-yard gainer to midfield.

On the next play from scrimmage, Moore called his own number and scampered 50 yards to paydirt. Bryce Cullipher added the point after touchdown as the Falcons tied the game at 7-all.

The Nighthawks came right back, however, driving 72 yards on five plays to retake the lead. Quarterback Corey Byrum connected with Chris King on a key 24-yard gain during the drive.

The scoring play came when Nick Hamm rumbled five yards to the endzone. Pace added the extra point and First Flight led 14-7.

This time the Falcons didn’t waste any time getting back even as on the first play from scrimmage, Moore found Isaiah Allen on a 65-yard scoring strike. Cullipher added the PAT and the score was tied at 14-all with 8:30 to play in the first half.

Neither team had another threat in the first half and the teams went to the intermission tied at 14-all.

At halftime, a ceremony was held and Falcon Stadium was officially renamed in honor of the late Roy L. Bond Jr. (Details will be in a future edition of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.)

As the second half started, First Flight drove to the Bertie 30-yardline, but the Falcon defense stiffened and forced the Nighthawks to turn it over on downs. The teams then exchanged punts until early in the fourth period.

A short punt gave the Nighthawks good field position at the 29-yardline of the Falcons and First Flight punched it in on a 22-yard aerial from Byrum to King. The PAT failed, but the Nighthawks led 20-14 with 10:16 to play.

The proverbial nail was driven in Bertie’s coffin six minutes later when a snap sailed over Cullipher’s head when he was back to punt. He recovered the football, but was brought down at the 12-yardline.

First Flight used just two plays, the second of which was a 10-yard scoring run by Hamm, to put the ball in the endzone. The conversion kick again failed, but the Nighthawks had their final margin.

Bertie fell to 3-6 on the season as they head into next week’s open date.