Bears ‘drop’ league opener

Published 11:44 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

AHOSKIE – Hertford County dropped its Northeastern Coastal Conference opener here tonight (Friday) in a very literal sense.

The Bears suffered a half-dozen dropped passes, including three in a span of four plays with an opportunity to tie the game, and suffered a 28-21 setback at the hands of Northeastern High School.

Early on it looked like the visiting Eagles would make short work of HCHS. Northeastern scored on each of its first two drives and built a 14-0 lead before the Bears settled in.

On the opening drive, the Eagles set up shop at their own 20-yardline, but drove the 80 yards to paydirt in nine plays to take a quick lead. The big play on the drive came on a Mason James 28-yards scamper.

On the next play, Denzel Ward punched it in from 12 yards out and, coupled with the Brandon Swayne kick, the Eagles led 7-0.

The Bears went on the wrong direction on their first series, losing yards on two of the three snaps before punting it away.

On the first play from scrimmage after the punt, Northeastern senior quarterback Terry Williams connected with Ward on a 20-yard pickup. James carried for a dozen yards on the next play.

The defense stiffened for the Bears and forced Northeastern to line up on fourth-and-six from their own 39. Williams, however, found Quinton Roach for a 15-yard pickup and a first down.

Ja’Quay James picked up 13 more on the next play to move the ball down to the Hertford County 11-yardline.Two plays later, Williams found Ward on a 12-yard pass for the score. Swayne again was good on the PAT and the Eagles led 14-0.

Hertford County was forced to punt again on its next possession and Northeastern took over at the Hertford County 28-yardline following the punt return.

Hertford County’s defense shut them down from that point, however, and forced Northeastern to turn the ball over on downs.

The Bears made the most of it, driving 64 yards on seven plays to find the endzone for the first time.

Neil Outlaw had a huge 45-yard gain on the second play from scrimmage and set up the Bears at the Northeastern 13-yardline. It took five plays before HCHS found paydirt on a one-yard run by Devin Vaughan.

Brandon Warren booted the extra point through the uprights and the Bears were within 14-7 with 7:41 remaining in the second quarter.

Both teams had opportunities before the half, but neither capitalized and they went into the locker room with Northeastern ahead 14-7.

It took HCHS less than a minute to score in the second half, however. After the first play from scrimmage yielded nothing, the Bears took to the air and senior quarterback Petey Boone found Vaughan for a 63-yard touchdown pass. Warren’s extra point was true and the game was deadlocked at 14-all with 11:07 to play in the third quarter.

Boone picked off a Williams pass on the next Northeastern drive, but the Bears couldn’t move the football and were forced to turn it over on downs.

The Eagles took the lead for good on the next drive, going 43 yards on just five plays. Williams again connected with Ward for the score, this time on a 24-yard pass play. Swayne’s PAT made it 21-14 with 4:50 to play.

The Bears drove all the way to the Northeastern 11-yardline on the next series thanks to an 18-yard pass play from Boone to Outlaw. A holding penalty, however, moved HCHS back to the 29-yardline.

At that point, Boone attempted four consecutive passes and three of them found their mark, but the receivers couldn’t come up with the receptions.

On the next drive, the Bears scored what appeared to be the tying touchdown, but a penalty called it back and they were forced to punt the ball away.

Northeastern attempted to run out the clock and picked up three consecutive first downs before James broke a 50-yard run to paydirt with 3:24 to play. Swayne’s kick made it 28-14.

The Bears weren’t down, however, as they drove 66 yards in two minutes to score again. The score came on a 77-yard pass play from Boone to Vaughan. Warren added the PAT and the Bears were within 28-21 with 1:01 to play.

The onsides kick, however, failed and Northeastern ran out the clock to preserve the win.

Northeastern racked up 432 yards of total offense, including 241 by James on the ground. Williams added 88 through the airways.

HCHS managed only 243 total yards and were led by the 201 passing yards from Boone.

The loss is the third straight for the Bears and drops them to 3-3 overall and 0-1 in the league. They will try to bounce back next week when they travel to Edenton.

(By Billy Harrell, Senior Sports Writer)