Bears win playoff opener
AHOSKIE – The colors were wrong.
The number was too.
Still, it would not have been difficult to see the resemblance between junior Hertford County High School quarterback Ryan Weaver and rookie Washington Redskins signal-caller Robert Griffin III.
Friday night Weaver used his arm and his feet to lead the Bears to a first-round victory in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs. The Bears defeated visiting West Carteret by a final of 52-26.
While the victory was certainly a team effort, Weaver did his part to provide the Bears with their first win in the opening round of the playoffs since 2009. The junior QB passed for 258 yards on 11-of-14, including three scores. He added another 81 yards on the ground and scored that way as well.
“I think this was much deserved for this team,” fourth-year HCHS football mentor Scott Privott said. “We hadn’t won a playoff game in three years and I was glad to see the kids come out and play hard.”
The first HCHS player to get his team on the scoreboard was not Weaver, however, it was junior running back Ken Sharpe. Following a pair of completions from Weaver (one to Jquwan Ruffin for 34 yards and another to Kevin Privott for 18 yards), Sharpe scampered seven yards to paydirt.
The conversion kick failed, but Hertford County had an early 6-0 lead with 7:28 to play in the first quarter.
The second drive saw the Bears set up shop at their own 37- yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Weaver found Dorrien Askew for an 18-yard gain. The drive stalled, however and the Bears got a 21-yard field goal from junior place kicker Ackerman Grace to take a 9-0 lead at the 4:22 mark of the first quarter.
The next score came directly from Weaver’s arm when, after forcing a West Carteret punt, the junior quarterback connected with Askew on a 74-yard strike. The kick split the uprights and Hertford County claimed a 16-0 lead with 1:58 to play in the first quarter.
The Patriots put together their first real drive of the evening on their next possession. Senior quarterback Jared Carr connected with JoJo Grant on a 39-yard gainer to get the ball out to the West Carteret 40-yard line. After two losses, Devon Godette picked up a couple of yards on the ground.
Carr then came back to find Ross Schumann on a 40-yard pass play down to the HCHS four-yard line. On the next play, Grant scampered into the end zone. The extra point failed, but the Patriots had closed the gap to 16-6.
The two teams exchanged punts with the Bears ending up with possession on their own 39-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Sharpe was stopped after a one-yard gain.
The next play saw Weaver find Ruffin on a 60-yard scoring pass. Grace added the extra point and the Bears led 23-6.
Despite a couple of threats, the score remained there until after the intermission.
Hertford County opened the second half by driving the ball 57 yards on nine plays to add to their advantage. Weaver had a 33-yard rush during the series while also finishing off the drive on a two-yard plunge. Grace added the conversion and the Bears led 30-6.
West Carteret wasn’t done, however, as they drove 59 yards on their next drive to score for the second time. Grant had a 36-yard run that was key on the drive. The score came when Carr found Grant on a 10-yard scoring pass. The kick again failed, leaving the Bears up 30-12 with 4:43 to play in the third quarter.
Hertford County punted on its next possession, but a pass which was tipped at the line of scrimmage was hauled in by defensive lineman Alfonza Beverly III for an interception. Seven plays later, Weaver connected with Ruffin on a 25-yard touchdown pass. Grace added the kick and the Bears led 37-12 with 44 ticks left on the third quarter clock.
That score started on onslaught of touchdowns over the next seven minutes of game time.
Just 17 seconds into the fourth quarter Ruffin picked off a Carr aerial and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. Grace added the conversion and the Bears led 44-12.
West Carteret answered just a minute and 13 seconds later. Following a 27-yard pass completion from Carr to Kris Linder, Grant scored from one yard out. The two-point conversion failed leaving the Bears ahead 44-18.
Hertford County drove 52 yards on seven plays during the next drive. Sharpe finished it off with a nine-yard touchdown scamper. Anthony Lassiter ran in the two-point conversion to make it 52-18.
The Patriots added a final score with 3:02 to play in the game. Grant capped a 57-yard drive with a one-yard plunge. He added the conversion to establish the final score.
Overall, West Craven threw for 258 yards during the evening while rushing for just 116. That’s a far cry from the largely run-based attack the Patriots had preferred before Friday.
Privott said he was pleased with the way the defense responded.
“We didn’t have a chance to work on their passing game as much as we would have liked because of spending time working on their top back,” he said. “We didn’t know until tonight he wouldn’t play. I thought the defense made some good adjustments at half time to help us win the game.”
The Bears (8-3) will be back at home next week when they welcome the Pam Pack of Washington High School (9-2). Washington defeated West Craven 48-6 in Friday’s first round action.
Privott said his coaching staff was already working on that contest.
“I told the kids to enjoy it tonight but be ready to get to work Monday,” he said. “As for the coaching staff, we started talking about Washington tonight.”