All tied up…

Published 1:10 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

WINDSOR – When It comes to its football fortunes Bertie High may not be “Singin’ In The Rain”, but as movie icon, Gene Kelly, put it: “What A Glorious Feelin’, I’m Happy Again!”.

The Falcons’ Thursday night game at Roy L. Bond Jr. Stadium with Rocky Mount – moved up a day due to threatening weather from Hurricane Irene – ended up being a soaker after all; but better for the home team: it didn’t end with a loss.

Their 22-22 tie with the Gryphons left Bertie with a 1-0-1 record and undefeated following its first two games of the season for the first time since 2000.

The game ended with 21 seconds left in the third quarter as an upstart rain shower appeared from nowhere and pelted the stadium. After lightning was sighted in the area, officials made the decision to call it.

The Falcons weren’t fancy, but they were efficient: senior quarterback Tykevis Bazemore threw for a pair of touchdowns, upping his season scoring total to five including three in last week’s win at Gates County.

He finished with 151 passing yards on the night.

On the ground, Rocky Mount outran Bertie 213 yards to 85 out of their single-wing formation as Gryphon workhorse Mason Hines racked up 171 of those yards in just 35 minutes of work.  Jonathan Wilson led Bertie with 22 yards on the ground.

“We knew they were going to get some yards because of that offense,” said second-year Bertie coach Greg Watford, “but we also knew that they couldn’t stop us; we scored on every possession, but one.

“We also knew they were going to use their size up front to wear us down,” he added, “so we rotated a lot of people in and out.”

“Last year this time we had only scored a total of 19 points,” Watford added with a wry smile. “Now we’re averaging over twenty a game and we’re going to get better.”

Bertie’s short pooch-kick on the opening kick-off, gave the Gryphons good field position on their own 36-yard line. Ten plays later the visitors were on the scoreboard thanks to a one-yard plunge from Hines.  A two-point conversion run made the score 8-0.

But, back storm the Falcons: Al Ameen Sharif took the kick 34 yards back to the Rocky Mount 37-yard line.  A couple of runs set Bertie up at the 24-yard line.

Bazemore then missed Shykie Mitchell on a sideline route, but, after losing a yard on the ground, came back with the same play and this time Mitchell hauled in Bertie’s first score over a Gryphon defender.

On the extra point the Falcons lined up for a kick, but instead snapped the ball to Malcolm Cherry who passed to Eric Bowen in the end zone and the game was knotted at 8-8.

The next possession may have turned the game.

Rocky Mount drove to the Bertie eight-yard line before a bad snap pushed them back to the 24.  They then had two penalties to lose 10 more yards before turning the ball over on downs to Bertie at the Falcons’ 22.

It didn’t take the home team long to get in front.

Five running plays and a pair of first downs moved Bertie to midfield where, on first down, Bazemore hit Jonathan Wilson on a 48-yard strike to paydirt. The kick was wide-right, but Bertie held a 14-8 lead.

Rocky Mount came back to tie it at 14-all and then stopped Bertie with a minute left until halftime.  The Gryphons drove to their own 40 before a desperation pass was picked off by Cherry to end the half.

Bertie opened the second-half with their second go-ahead score: from their own 25 yard line Bazemore hit Wilson on a screen pass and the speedster sprinted down the sideline before being run down by a Gryphon defender at the four yard line.

Hafiz did the rest on one play and a two-point conversion made it, 22-14, Bertie.

But Rocky Mount mounted a 12-play drive from their own 42 thanks to another short kick-off.  They then drove to the Bertie 30-yard line before the rain began.

Through the driving storm the Gryphons ground out the final yards to the end zone and ran in the extra point to tie it at 22-22 with two and a half minutes left in the quarter.

Bertie showed they weren’t “mudders” as they went nowhere the next two minutes.  Just after punting the ball away the first bolts of electricity appeared in the sky sending fans scurrying from the metal stands and, despite a delay, the teams decided to end it.

“We were set up to win it in the fourth quarter,” said a drenched Watford, shaking his head afterward. “I hate the weather spoiled our ending, but any game you don’t lose is a good game.”

Next week, the Falcons will take to the road again as they travel to Swansboro (1-1).