One for the ages!
Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021
AHOSKIE – Two storied high school football programs in eastern North Carolina renewed an old rivalry here Friday night from where the final outcome will be an ongoing topic of discussion for years to come.
In other words, if you were not inside Bears Stadium between 7 and 9:50 pm on Oct. 29, you missed a “treat” two nights prior to Halloween as Edenton-Holmes, after building a quick 14-0 lead, held off repeated challenges from Hertford County to defeat the Bears, 48-38.
The game ended the regular season for both teams, but a rematch could loom ahead as the Aces (7-2 overall) and the Bears (7-3) qualified for the Class 2A state playoffs (see story page 1A).
But of all the combined offense (869 yards) and total points (86), the final outcome rested squarely on what happened near the midway mark of the third quarter. There, with Edenton nursing a narrow 28-24 lead, momentum took a big shift towards the Bears when Chorii Woods pounced on a muffed punt, giving HCHS the ball at the Aces 47 yardline.
One play later, Woods took part in another big play as he grabbed a long pass from Keveon Rodgers that put the Bears inside the redzone and poised to take the lead. However, HCHS was flagged for offensive holding on the play, wiping out that long gainer and killing the Bears momentum as they punted four plays later from their own 37 yardline.
Edenton then drove 56 yards in six plays and scored on a bizarre play when Divon Ward was nearing the endzone to complete his 23-yard run to paydirt. Ward was hit by a HCHS defender at the seven yardline, the ball popped into the air and was grabbed by Edenton quarterback Landen Hoggard who strolled into the endzone for the touchdown. The PAT gave Edenton an 11-point advantage, 35-24, with a shade under two minutes left in the third quarter.
But the Bears refused to surrender by taking the ensuing kickoff and marching 50 yards in six plays capped by a five-yard TD run by Tyree Coatney. A two-point conversion pass from Rodgers to Woods was successful, trimming the Bears deficit to 35-32 with four seconds left in the period.
Edenton then proceeded to drive to the HCHS 15 yardline before the Bears defense came up with a big play when linebacker Devonte Cofield recovered an Aces fumble.
A pair of completions from Rodgers to Woods (9 yards) and Israel Powell (15 yards) got the Bears out of the shadow of their endzone, HCHS eventually faced a 4th and 4 play from their own 40 with 6:20 left in the game. Head coach Terrance Saxby rolled the dice and gambled on one snap rather than punt. That play was an incomplete pass, giving the Aces the ball at the HCHS 40 and Edenton scored four plays later on a 23-yard run by D.J. Capehart as the visitors stretched their lead at nine (41-32) following a missed PAT kick.
The Bears once again showed heart as a 42-yard pass from Rodgers to Bryant Williams highlighted a four play, 52-yard drive capped by Sean Cruz’s 5-yard TD run, getting HCHS as close as 41-38 with 2:45 remaining.
That left Saxby with one decision….attempt an onside kick. That effort failed, allowing Edenton to take possession at the Bears 43 yardline. Edenton sealed the win by scoring two plays later on a 4-yard run by Kysayvian Basnight.
The Aces, who finished with 472 yards of total offense with 454 coming on the ground, started fast by scoring on their first two possessions grab a 14-0 lead before the midway mark of the opening period.
Malachi White’s 13-yard scamper, capping a 7-play, 65-yard drive, and a 42-yard scoring run by Ward – which ended a quick 91-yard, six play march – accounted for those scores.
However, the Aces lost the services of their top two running backs – White and Quan Twine – during that time as both limped off the field with injuries. Neither would return.
HCHS (who finished with 397 total yards, led by Rodgers who threw for 257 yards) answered with two touchdowns to trim their deficit to 14-12 before the end of the first quarter.
The Bears scored first on a 2-yard run by Coatney, capping a nine play, 68-yard march. A 51-yard pass from Rodgers to a wide open Powell accounted for the next score.
Despite losing their top two backs, Edenton turned to a cast of supporting players who answered the challenge. That effort was led by Capehart, who rushed for a game-high 236 yards on 23 carries, including a 41-yard scoring jaunt on an option pitch that allowed the Aces to build a 21-12 lead at the 10:30 mark of the second quarter.
But the Bears bounced right back, using a 36-yard pass from Rodgers to Jahaun Bond to highlight an 8 play, 65-yard drive capped by a Coatney’s leaping grab of a 15-yard scoring pass from Rodgers as HCHS closed to within 21-18.
Following an interception, Edenton would score once more before halftime where Capehart darted 42 yards to paydirt, staking the Aces to a 28-18 advantage at the break.
The Bears drew to within 28-24 thanks to an Edenton mistake in the early going of the third quarter where a high snap over the quarterback’s head was scooped up by HCHS defender Ansari Williams who ran it to the Aces 20 yardline. Coatney scored two plays later on a 16-yard run, part of his 73-yard night that led the HCHS rushing attack.