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Southern Wayne stuns HCHS

AHOSKIE – Southern Wayne figured out a way to keep Hertford County from scoring.

They kept the offense on the sideline.

The Saints pulled off an early upset in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A football playoffs by coming to Ahoskie last night (Friday) and knocking off Hertford County High School 35-19.

The main culprit of the Bears’ season-ending loss was a Southern Wayne offense that ran 61 plays while limiting HCHS to 37. And the Saints offense racked up 385 yards of total offense, more than 100 yards better than Hertford County’s 275.

The quickest score of the night for Southern Wayne was likely the first. It took slightly more than two minutes for the Saints to find the endzone on their first possession.

Southern used a steady diet of runs by JaQuann Gobb and Quintae Bradshaw to move the ball from their own 20-yardline to the HCHS 48. Once there, it was Gobb who broke off a 48-yard scoring run with 9:47 to play in the first quarter. Jesus Rodriquez added the point after touchdown and Southern led 7-0.

Hertford County was forced to punt on their first possession and the Saints set sail on a eight-play drive that moved the ball to the Hertford County 28-yardline. Facing fourth down on that spot, Southern Wayne coach Bob Warren elected to go for it, but Dominick Partlow drug Saints’ quarterback Keith Jones down in the backfield and gave the Bears possession of the pigskin.

The Bears moved the ball nine yards on back-to-back runs by quarterback Petey Boone before Devin Vaughan broke off a 42-yard run to the Southern Wayne 16-yardline.

On the next play, Aaron Thomas scampered the remaining 16 yards to paydirt which, coupled with Brandon Warren’s extra point, tied the game at 7-all with just 55 ticks left on the first quarter clock.

Southern Wayne responded with a 10-play drive that took more than four minutes off the game clock. Two key plays for the Saints were a 13-yard run by Gobb and a 13-yard pass completion from Jones to Tobias Flow.

Bradshaw was the one who found paydirt, however, rumbling 23 yards for a score. Gobb took the two-point conversion in and with 8:46 to play in the second quarter, Southern Wayne led 15-7.

After forcing another HCHS punt, Southern took over on the Hertford County 43-yardline.

Jones found Gobb for a 17-yard gain on first down and, two plays later, the senior running back scampered 30 yards for a score. Rodriquez added the conversion and Southern Wayne led 22-7.

The Bears drove from their own 24-yardline to the Southern Wayne 21 before halftime. Facing a fourth-and-five from their own 44-yardline, Boone connected with Dontez Tyler on a 23-yard gainer down to the 21-yardline of the Saints.

After a pass was dropped in the endzone, the Bears had one play left before the half and the would-be touchdown pass fell incomplete, leaving Southern Wayne ahead 22-7 at the intermission.

Disaster struck for the Bears on the opening kickoff of the second half when a pooch kick was fumbled and recovered by Southern Wayne at the HCHS 37-yardline.

The Saints took six plays to score and took more than three minutes off the clock. The scoring play was a 20-yard pass from Jones to Dayshawn Johnson with 8:41 to play in the third quarter. Rodriquez added the conversion and Southern Wayne led 29-7.

Hertford County responded, but it took the Bears more than four minutes to get into the endzone, meaning again the clock was ticking. Boone completed five passes on the drive, including a six-yard scoring strike to Tyler. The two-point conversion failed and the Bears were left trailing 29-13 with 4:07 to play in the third period.

Things seemed to finally be tilting in the favor of the home team on the next drive as they forced a three-and-out, unfortunately for the Bears, a roughing the kicker penalty gave Southern Wayne new life at their own 43-yardline.

That allowed the Saints to milk an additional seven minutes off the clock before attempting a short field goal with just over five minutes to play. The kick was blocked and Tyler picked it up and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, but the Bears were with 10 at 29-19 and still 5:19 remaining in the game.

Southern quelled the comeback hopes, however, when they took three minutes off the clock before scoring on a 10-yard run by Kenyon Nembhard with 2:27 to play. The kick failed, but Southern led 35-19.

The Bears moved the football to Southern Wayne eight-yardline, but an interception allowed the Saints to kneel out the final two plays.

Southern Wayne had two backs surpass the century mark rushing. Gobb led all backs with 181 yards on 25 carries while Bradshaw had 22 carries for 118 yards. Jones completed 4-of-7 passes for 64 yards.

The Bears were led by Boone, who had 48 yards on 14 carries while Vaughan had 45 yards on three carries. Boone was 10-of-15 passing for one touchdown and one interception. He had 155 yards passing.

The loss ends Hertford County’s seasons at 8-4. The Bears lost in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

(By Billy Harrell, Senior Sports Writer)