Big play Bears stun defending state champs

Published 11:31 pm Friday, August 26, 2022

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Story updated at 9 am on Monday, Aug. 29

AHOSKIE – Believe it or not, but a game that saw a combined 992 yards and 110 points was decided by the defense.

Hertford County came up with two huge defensive stands in the game’s final six minutes and combined that with another solid performance offensively that led to a thrilling 56-54 upset of defending state champion Tarboro here Friday night.

The Bears improved to 2-0 to start the 2022 campaign. Meanwhile, Tarboro, who has won three of the past four Class 1A state titles, saw their record slip to 1-1.

While the game was dominated by the offensive firepower of both teams, it all boiled down to which squad could get a defensive stop.

Hertford County answered that challenge…twice.

After Elijah Outlaw’s 33-yard touchdown run and a successful two-point conversion pass from Keveon Rodgers to Jayden Robinson gave the Bears what proved to be the game-winning scores with 6:16 left in the game, the HCHS defense sealed the victory.

On the game’s ensuing possession, a bad exchange in Tarboro’s backfield caused a fumble, which Christian Brown recovered for HCHS.

Hertford County returned the gift five plays later, losing a fumble that the Vikings Joshua Bradley recovered at his own 19 yardline with 2:41 left.

But the Bears defense bowed their neck again, this time forcing the run-oriented Vikings into throwing the ball. Tarboro faced a 4th-and-8 from its own 34 yardline and Hertford County’s Isreal Powell broke up a pass to hand the ball back to the Bears with 1:19 left. HCHS ran out the clock from that point to seal the win.

However, before those two defensive stands late in the game, this contest was a track meet between two fast teams.

With the fans still finding their seats, Rodgers, the Bears junior quarterback, scored on the game’s very first play, scrambling 89 yards to paydirt for a 6-0 lead only 19 seconds into the contest.

Rodgers had a big night for the Bears, running for 217 yards and five touchdowns and passing for 199 yards and two more scores.

Using a 53-yard kick-off return by Tremaine Mcdaniels to the HCHS 35, Tarboro answered when Trevon White scored from 10 yards out. Mcdaniels added the conversion run as the Vikings grabbed an 8-6 lead.

Not to be outdone, Outlaw returned the game’s ensuing kickoff 66 yards to Tarboro’s 22 yardline. The Bears scored four plays later on a 17-yard strike from Rodgers to Rimiez Williams for a 12-8 lead with 5:21 left in the opening period.

Tarboro rebounded with an 11-play, 62-yard drive capped by White’s one-yard TD run and a conversion pass from Omarion Lewis to Jamarion Dozier as the Vikings reclaimed the lead at 16-12 on the second play of the second quarter.

The Vikings would stretch that advantage to 10 points (22-12) later in the second period when Lewis capped a grinding 13-play, 97-yard drive with his one-yard TD run.

The Bears answered in the blink of an eye when, on second down of the game’s ensuing series, Rodgers took off again, this time darting 63 yards to paydirt. He then tossed a two-point conversion pass to Powell as HCHS pulled to within 22-20 with 4:11 left until halftime.

On Tarboro’s next possession, HCHS defender Trequan Taylor stripped the ball from a Vikings runner and returned his theft to midfield. Highlighted by a 20-yard pass from Rodgers to Robinson, the Bears marched 50 yards in seven plays, capped by a two-yard scoring run by Rodgers. He then completed the conversion pass to Williams as the Bears took a 28-22 lead into halftime.

The two teams kept their foot on the accelerator in the third quarter where the lead exchanged hands four times.

Tarboro had leads of 30-28 (on a 17-yard TD run by Mason Satterfield followed by Dozier’s conversion run) and 38-34 (thanks to a diving catch by Mcdaniels on a 9-yard scoring pass from Lewis followed by Satterfield’s conversion run).

Hertford County led twice in the third period: 34-30 thanks to a 62-yard TD pass from Rodgers to Powell; and 42-38 when Rodgers capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive with his 1-yard TD run followed by his scramble on the ensuing conversion run with 65 seconds left in the quarter.

The excitement carried over into the fourth quarter where the Vikings seemed poised to cage the Bears with a pair of scoring runs by Satterfield (50 and 2 yards) to lead 54-48 with 7:22 left to play.

But the Bears answered with two touchdowns of their own: a 10-yarder by Rodgers and the game-winner by Outlaw followed by the two key defensive stands by HCHS.

Outlaw had 92 rushing yards as the Bears totaled 519 yards of offense.

Tarboro, who finished with 473 total yards (431 on the ground on 59 carries), was led by Satterfield (16 rushes for 208 yards and three touchdowns) and Mcdaniels (18 attempts for 101 yards). White added 65 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Hertford County will host long-time rival Bertie this Friday (Sept. 2) at 7 p.m.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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