Bears capitalize on Bertie mistakes
WINDSOR – Eight minutes and 32 seconds.
That’s how long it took Hertford County to seize control of the game in the Bears-Falcons gridiron rivalry.
And if this one was a prize fight, then there was no staggering on wobbly knees, no TKO – no, this one didn’t even need a 10-count.
The Bears scored 26 unanswered points – all in the second quarter, doubling up Bertie – and the Bears never looked back. They added just a second-half field goal and left Roy L. Bond Jr. Stadium victorious, 29-13.
The Falcons were knocked out by their usual Achilles heel – or glass jaw in this case – with turnovers and big plays.
Bears quarterback Ryan Weaver threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and on defense Hertford County collected another pair of six-pointers on fumble returns for scores.
David Watford connected twice with receiver Deshondre Day for Bertie’s two touchdowns.
“I just told the kids to stay the course,” said Bears coach Scott Privott. “Sometimes with rivalries you get all pumped up and your adrenaline’s going and you make a whole lot of mistakes, but I was just glad they kept fighting.”
The Bears didn’t throw their round-houses, uppercuts and jabs until the second quarter. Right from when they blocked the point-after attempt by Bertie kicker, Luke Davis.
“To me the turning point was when we blocked the extra-point,” said Privott. “We started playing then and when we started playing they seemed to fall apart.”
Bertie had it together in the beginning of the contest; stopping the Bears on Hertford County’s first two drives. On the HCHS second possession Kenny Sharpe fumbled on his own 38-yard line and Day recovered on the Bears’ 46.
Watford went to work, directing a six-play 54-yard drive to the end zone.
With the ball on their own 18-yard line, Falcons coach Greg Watford called time-out. First play out of the break was the younger Watford hitting Day in the corner of the end zone and after a Davis kick, giving the Falcons a 7-0 start.
On its next possession early in the second quarter Hertford County turned the ball over again and it was the opportunistic Day who collected the leather on the Bears’ 44.
Three plunges into the line by the Falcons resulted in a loss of a yard and fourth down once more. Again the Bertie magic worked on another Watford-Day hook-up, this time on a 44-yard fade route, but the kick missed and the lead was 13-0.
And then the Bears picked themselves up off the mat.
Weaver directed a 54-yard drive that ended with his 25-yard scoring strike – also on fourth down – to Jquwan Ruffin. Ackerman Grace connected on the extra point and the Falcon lead was suddenly six, 13-7.
That also meant all three of the games’ first three scores coming on fourth down plays.
On Bertie’s next possession Jaquil Hafiz, who finished the night with 106 rushing yards, took the ball from Bertie’s 24 to the Bears’ 41. But the Bears’ defense knocked the Falcons back across mid-field.
Following a timeout, Watford had trouble with the snap, juggled the ball, and fumbled on his own 45. Darious White scooped up the loose pigskin and rumbled 55 yards to the end zone. The kick missed and the game was tied, 13-all.
Things then went from bad to worse for Bertie. A bad snap resulted in another turnover, recovered by the Bears’ Keilah Smallwood at the Bertie 10-yard line.
Weaver needed just two plays to call his own number on a 10-yard keeper and give Hertford County its first lead, 19-13. A two point conversion pass was incomplete.
Hertford County kicked off and the Falcons started their fourth drive of the quarter on their own 36. Jakeim Mosley came in at quarterback for Bertie, subbing for Watford who had suffered a finger injury – and tried to lateral on the very first play.
Instead, the ball fell incomplete, but was alertly scooped up by the Bears’ O’shane Ximenes who never broke stride and rambled 36 yards to the end zone. This time Grace’s kick connected and Hertford County led it 26-13.
The meant it was 26 Bear points in six minutes-and-twelve seconds. The 13-point lead held through halftime.
Bertie took the second half kickoff to the Hertford County 26-yard line but fumbled it away. However, the Bears couldn’t capitalize.
Each team had two more possessions and on its second, Hertford County drove to the Bertie 12, but were stopped. Grace came on and booted a 31-yard field goal – his longest of the year – to make it, 29-13.
Neither team scored the rest of the game. Hertford County controlled the clock while Bertie turned the ball over twice on downs.
“I’ll say it,” said Watford. “I thought we beat them all over the field, but we ended so many drives with bad snaps and turnovers. I can’t explain it, we just have to search our hearts and come ready to play ball.
“They capitalized on our mistakes and we did not take advantage of our good play,” he added.
Both teams qualified for the playoffs which will begin next Friday. Seedings are expected to be announced later on Saturday.