Bears beat First Flight 46-23

Published 7:00 pm Monday, November 4, 2013

AHOSKIE – It’s come down to Currituck.

When the Bears and Knights square off Friday night in Barco, the winner will have the Northeastern Coastal Conference’s final playoff spot in the state playoffs.

In the meantime, Hertford County helped solidify their chances with their rain-delayed Saturday night win, 46-23, over First Flight.

Ryan Weaver passed for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Tyus Leary rushed for 123 yards and two more touchdowns in the NCC victory.

After taking the opening kickoff, but going nowhere, the Bears punted and First Flight took over on the Hertford County 43. The Nighthawks then strung together a five-play drive that was capped by a Landon Leithauser 27 yard touchdown run. Seth Pugh booted thru the extra point and the ‘Hawks had broken out in front on the Bears 7-0 with 9:10 left in the quarter.

Hertford County came right back and put together a six-play 82 yard drive to even the score. Leary busted one from 22 yards out for his first touchdown of the night. During the drive Weaver had a 28-yard run to highlight the Bears’ possession. Bryan Merritt kicked thru the extra point and with 7:10 left in the first quarter the game was knotted at 7-7.

On the next possession, First Flight was stopped on fourth and two and the Bears took over on the Nighthawks’ 34-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage Weaver hit Dwayne Bishop on a slant good for 33 yards down to the one-yard line. From there Weaver took it in on a quarterback keeper and Merritt’s kick doubled the score on First Flight to make it, 14-7, Hertford County.

First Flight’s kickoff return was to their own 21 yard line and on their first play from scrimmage Jquwan Ruffin stepped in front of a Nighthawk receiver and returned it 32 yards for a “pick-six” touchdown. The kick was no good and the Bears led the game, 20-7 with under two-and-a-half minutes in the quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, First Flight fumbled and Hertford County’s Travis Hoggard pounced on the loose ball for a Bears’ recovery on the Nighthawks’ 19-yard line. On the second play of the drive Weaver threw a 17-yard strike to Jemel Monger. Merritt’s extra point kick was good this time and the Bears led it 27-7, having scored two touchdowns in thirty seconds.

And there was still 1:44 left in the quarter.

First Flight’s next drive stalled and the Bears got the ball back thanks to a punt. But their drive only went to the First Flight 43 before the Nighthawks’ Spencer Moore intercepted Weaver at the 25-yard line and ran it back 75 yards for a pick-six of his own. Moore then passed to Dylan Bland for the two-point conversion and Hertford County’s lead was trimmed to 27-15.

The Bears then punted on their next drive and First Flight’s drive began at their own 18. Again, Hertford County held on a fourth down play, taking over on the Nighthawks’ 27-yard line. On the fourth play of the drive Anthony Lassiter had a 33-yard touchdown run. The kick was no good and Hertford County led it 33-15 with 2:45 until halftime.

Neither team scored on their next two drives, so the score remained 33-15 at the break.

First Flight began the second half with a great drive that ended with the Nighthawks watching Ruffin collect his second interception of the game at his own 27.  The Bears then went on a four-play 73-yard drive capped by a Weaver scoring pass from 39 yards out to Lassiter, which he caught over his shoulder for the touchdown. During that same drive Weaver also had a 14-yard pass to Monger and Leary had a 15-yard run. With the extra-point the Bears led it 40-15.

The Bears then held First Flight on fourth down for the third time on the night and took over on their own 18.  Next came an 8-play 82-yard drive capped by Leary’s second touchdown run of the night, this one from 14 yards out. During the drive both Weaver and Lassiter had 14-yard runs and Weaver also made a 26-yard completion to Ruffin. The kick failed, and the lead was 46-15, Hertford County.

First Flight didn’t roll over. The Nighthawks went on an 8-play 49-yard drive and scored when Bradley completed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Byrum.  The two-point conversion was good and Hertford County’s lead was trimmed to 46-23.

First Flight then had an onside kick and recovered on their own 49. However, this time it was the Bears’ defense that stepped up and the ‘Hawks were stopped on fourth down for the fourth time that night. Hertford County took over on their own ten-yard line and ran eleven more plays before the horn sounded.

Hertford County had 492 total yards. In addition to the offense generated by Weaver and Leary, Lassiter had 57 yards rushing and Weaver had 44 yards rushing. Alex Monaco had 64 yards rushing to lead First Flight.

HertfordCounty is now 6-4 and 3-2 in conference while First Flight ends its season at 4-6 and 2-4 in conference.

The Bears will next travel to Barco to play Currituck next Friday. The Knights are 8-2 and in a three-way tie for first place with Northeastern and Edenton J.A. Holmes all at 4-1 in conference.