Falcons edge Jags

Published 3:57 pm Sunday, August 30, 2015

WINDSOR – As Florida-Georgia Line sings it: Anything goes on a Friday night.

And on a night that turned into anything but a quiet evening, Bertie ran its way to a 36-27 win over Northampton County.

Corey Cherry’s 25-yard scamper with a little less than three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter gave the home team some breathing room, and the Bertie defense put the exclamation point on the night with a late fourth-down stop and for the second year in a row, the Falcons won their season opener before a raucous crowd at Roy Bond Stadium.

With Bertie clinging to a scant one-point lead, Cherry, who finished the night, unofficially, with 152 yards on 12 carries, whipped to the outside, shook a couple of Jaguar defenders, and danced his way into the end zone for the final six points of the night.  Then he capped the drive by dragging four Northampton defenders draped over him into the end zone for the two-point conversion.

But the nine-point win wasn’t sealed until the Bertie defense rose up with its final stop of the night as Keyunte Lee – a 14-year old 9th grader – made a stop on Stephone Ashe on third down, and the Jags last-gasp fourth down pass was incomplete to seal the win.

“I knew it would be something,” said exhausted Bertie coach Tyris Hill. “Our kids did just enough to win.  We still have a lot to improve on for next week and I think that’s what will happen for us. To play like we played and still win says something about these kids; I think we’ll get it together.”

It didn’t look very together for the Falcons on the opening kickoff.  Northampton’s Ja’Quan Buffaloe cradled the kick at his own 20, saw a seam on the right side, and outran the Bertie defenders 80 yards to the end zone.  Jaquan Copeland kicked thru the extra point and the Jaguars led it 7-0 before many of their fans who’d made the trip from Creeksville had even made it into their seats.

Bertie came back and methodically used ball-control to march 65 yards, mostly on hard running by fullback Dijon Askew, who finished the drive by bulling his way in for the Falcons’ first score.  A pass from quarterback Darquail Wilkens to Bobby Askew was tipped and Bertie trailed by a point, 7-6.

Northampton’s next possession fizzled at midfield and Bertie got the ball back on downs.  On the Falcons’ first play, Wilkins dropped back with a nice cushion and fired a strike to Jacori Vaughan 40 yards downfield to the Northampton 12.  Cherry punched it in from the dozen remaining yards out and Bertie led for the first time 14-7 after Wilkens ran in the two-point conversion.

Northampton answered right back with a bomb of their own from Montrell Squire to Xzavier Bell, who took it away from a Bertie defender, and made the catch good for 38 down to the Bertie 27.  Three plays later, Buffaloe found paydirt and after a Squire run, the Jags had re-taken the lead, 15-14, on his second touchdown.

Bertie didn’t have a quick strike on their next possession. Instead, another methodical march 54 yards to start the second quarter was capped by Cherry’s second TD of the night.  A penalty on the two-point conversion brought the ball back, and on the second attempt the Jaguars held, but still trailed, 20-15.

Northampton drove to the Bertie 23, but the drive stalled on fourth down. The Falcons looked to up their lead at the break, but a couple of bad snaps stagnated their run and the clock expired with Bertie leading by five.

Bertie fumbled the second half kickoff, and Northampton made them pay: going from the Falcon 34 in four plays to the end zone on Buffaloe’s second score of the night.  A run for two-points was stopped, but the score allowed the Jags to cling to a one-point lead, 21-20.

Bertie had trouble hanging onto the ball on their next possession and the Jags’ Karon King came up with a fumble recovery.  But Northampton simply handed it right back when William Cumbo coughed it up and Marcus Philyaw recovered for the Falcons.  As if the comedy of errors couldn’t cease, Bertie spit it out a second time in the quarter and Angelo Rooks pounced on it for the Jaguars.  Northampton took the possession into the fourth quarter before they finally got some breathing room when Squire scored on a 12-yard run on the left side, but no conversion, and it was 27-20, Northampton.

Bertie got the kick on their own 35 and in one quick strike play, the second of the drive, Wilkens called his own number and faked a handoff, and zipped 63 yards down the right sideline to the end zone.  Dijon Askew ran it in for two, and the Falcons re-took the lead, 28-27, with under eight minutes to play.

Northampton looked like they had answered back on a 37-yard second-down pass play from Ashe to Buffaloe for a score, but the play was called back on a Jaguars holding penalty.  Bertie made two more stops and the ball went over to the Falcons on downs.

From the 45 yard line, Hill put the ball into the hands of Dijon Askew, 20 yards on four plays down to the Northampton 25, and from there Cherry ran it in for his third score of the night.   The Jags couldn’t recover on their last possession and Bertie ran out the clock for the win.

The Falcons (1-0) take flight to Gatesville next Friday for a date with Gates County.  Northampton (0-2) remains on the road for a third week, this time traveling to Warren County.