Bears explode in fourth quarter

Published 11:38 pm Friday, August 17, 2012

AHOSKIE – The friendly confines of home.

While last year Bear Stadium wasn’t the friendliest of places for the Hertford County High School football team, the 2012 squad made it clear they’ll be more comfortable in Ahoskie.

HCHS blew open a close game in the fourth quarter and rolled to a 39-21 season-opening victory over visiting South Central High School. In the process, the Bears avenged last-season’s opening loss to the Falcons.

“This was a good opening win for us,” HCHS mentor Scott Privott said. “I am so proud of the team. The offense played great. We were able to run the football and that was big.

“The defense came to play tonight,” he added. “We are young and will get better every week.”

While the contest ended up being a shootout, no one would have known it through the first three quarters with the teams combining for just three scores.

HCHS got on the board first when Kenneth Sharpe Jr. scored from 10 yards out with only five ticks left on the first quarter clock. Sharpe’s score capped a 48-yard drive for the Bears. Ackerman Grace added the point after touchdown and the Bears led 7-0.

After forcing a South Central punt, the Bears were back on the attack. Junior quarterback Ryan Weaver scampered for 17 yards combined on two plays before Sharpe broke a 17-yard run to paydirt. Grace’s kick gave Hertford County a 14-0 lead with still 8:57 left to play in the first half of the contest.

From there, the two offenses went dormant until the fourth quarter.

South Central’s lone score in the first half came when Brandon Boyd picked off a pass and returned it 41 yards for the score. Seth Stancil booted the extra point and the Falcons were within seven (14-7) with 2:28 to play in the first half.

The Bears moved the football on their drive before halftime, but couldn’t get in the endzone, leaving the game a seven-point affair at the intermission.

The teams spent the third quarter exchanging punts, but the Bears scored on the opening play of the fourth quarter to begin an offensive onslaught.

Tyus Leary, a junior running back, capped a 54-yard drive for the Bears with a two-yard plunge just six seconds into the quarter. The kick failed, but the Bears led 20-7.

They added to that edge three minutes later when Sharpe scored his third touchdown of the night. He took the ball in from 10 yards out to cap a six-play, 66-yard drive. Grace added the kick and the Bears seemed comfortably in control at 27-7.

The Falcons weren’t done, however.

South Central went to the air and covered 63 yards in just five plays capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Rogerson to Tyler Britner. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the Bears ahead 27-13.

Just when the Falcons appeared back in the game, however, Sharpe found paydirt for the fourth time in the contest, breaking a 61-yard with 4:16 to play in the game. The conversion run failed, but the Bears were back in front by 20 (33-13).

The visitors responded on their first play from scrimmage when Rogerson connected with Tre Neal on a 54-yard score. Rogerson took the ball in on the two-point conversion and the Falcons had trimmed the lead to 33-21.

Any chances for a further comeback effort ended quickly, however. On the second play of the next drive, Leary torched the defense on a 71-yard scoring run to seal the win for the Bears. The conversion failed, but the Bears led 39-21 and cruised to victory.

Three Hertford County players went over the century mark on the ground in the contest. Sharpe led the way with 193 yards on 19 carriers. Leary added 134 yards on eight carries and Anthony Lassiter added 101 yards on 13 carries during the contest.

Overall, the Bears combined for 477 yards the bulk of which (471) came on the ground.

Hertford County improved to 1-0 with the win. They will be back at home next week when they host 1-A Tar-Roanoke Conference member Southeast Halifax.