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Bridges, Gryphons win despite turnovers

By SAMUEL EVERS
Rocky Mount Telegram

ROCKY MOUNT – It’s becoming a theme in this season’s early-going. Got a problem? Rocky Mount High’s Rodell Bridges can help.

On Thursday at home against 2-A Hertford County, the Gryphons scored two touchdowns in the game’s first 2:30 before winning 27-13.

Bridges finished with 115 yards rushing and two touchdowns, plus two catches for 47 yards, continuing a breakout season where he’s reached the end zone five times. His first score on Thursday came just 1:02 into the game. That three-play possession started on the 20-yard line; it began with a 35-yard run, then quarterback Jaquan Lynch connected with Jalen Powell to set up a goal line score for Bridges.

The other score for the Gryphons came from Tashaun Lawrence 2:23 into the game, after Saxby was intercepted on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage.

But they faltered from there, with three turnovers leading to a tense third-and-16 late in the third quarter, in which the momentum had swung and the lead had shrunk to eight points.

Bridges ended the stress, though, scampering for a 41-yard touchdown on that play, finishing off a drive in which the senior had 74 yards rushing on four tries.

That made it 27-13, and the Gryphons held on for a win by that score. They’re now 3-0, a win short of last year’s total, while the Bears drop to 0-3.

But not all wins are created equal, as coach Jason Battle pointed out after the game.

“Like I told our players, I’ll take the ugly win, but I think they had an expectation that Hertford County would quit. They didn’t. They played four quarters hard,” Battle said. “We lacked focus and execution. I give Hertford County credit for continuing to press on. They made plays. We were just able to outlast them.”

RMHS looked after a quarter like it was ready for a blowout, especially when cornerback Gabriel Bynum returned an interception off of Bears quarterback Tye Saxby 75 yards to make it 21-0 with 44 seconds left in the first.

In the second quarter, Lynch, who finished 7-of-11 for 149 yards, threw a red zone interception. Then a botched punt and a turnover for Rocky Mount led to a Bears touchdown on a QB sneak from Saxby right before the half.

To compound the interception, Lynch fumbled a snap to start the third quarter that HCHS’s Michael Savage brought back for a 25-yard touchdown. That made it 21-13, which set up Bridges’ tension-alleviating touchdown rush.

From there, the defense did its job, holding on a red zone trip to force a turnover-on-downs midway through the fourth quarter. After a punt on the ensuing possession, cornerback Ta’Vaughn Parker intercepted Saxby again with three minutes left to essentially seal the game. The Gryphons’ defense allowed only two plays of more than 20 yards.

“We were hoping to pitch a shutout, but we didn’t get our heads down when they scored,” said senior defensive end Alandis Trevathan, who finished with two of RMHS’s five sacks. “When the offense isn’t playing good, we love moments like that. We know we have to step up and be the offense.”