Bears recover from slow start to beat Bertie

Published 6:50 pm Saturday, September 3, 2022

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AHOSKIE – Once a bad case of “fumblelitis” was cured, Herford County had little trouble in recording its third straight win of the season here Friday night.

Junior quarterback Keveon Rodgers threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns while fellow 11th graders Elijah Outlaw and Wayne Futrell combined for 182 rushing yards and one score each to lead the Bears to a 48-8 non-conference win over longtime rival Bertie.

Other than Outlaw’s 80-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, Hertford County’s offense appeared out of synch. Perhaps it was a rash of penalties (seven over the opening 24 minutes) or the team was still celebrating its thrilling win one week prior against defending state champion Tarboro as the Bears stumbled to a 19-0 lead at halftime against the winless Falcons.

Things didn’t begin any better to open the second half. On the first snap of the third quarter, Outlaw coughed up the ball after a four-yard run and Bertie’s Molique Dedmon recovered.

On Hertford County’s next offensive series, the usually sure-handed Isreal Powell lost the handle after grabbing a seven-yard pass from Rodgers. Bertie defender Roquavion Perry recovered at midfield.

Finally, the Bears got their offensive act together.

Taking over at their own 20 yardline where HCHS defender Brian Flores stopped a Falcons threat by recovering a fumble, the Bears proceeded to march 80 yards in 11 plays, capped by Rodgers calling his own number and dashing the final four yards for the score. That drive was aided by a 21-yard scamper by Rodgers, a pair of 10-yard passes (one each to Powell and Kevian Gatling), and four runs by Futrell totaling 31 yards.

Caleb Barnes booted the PAT for a 26-0 lead with 2:01 left in the third period.

The Bears used a short field to add to their advantage. On the first play of the fourth quarter, a low snap to Dedmon, who was lined up to punt from inside his own 20 yardline, forced him to scramble. His run came up short of the first down marker and HCHS took over.

One play later, Rodgers tossed a 24-yard TD pass to Jayden Robinson. Coupled with the successful PAT kick by Barnes, HCHS increased its lead to 33-0.

Bertie’s ensuing possession ended on first down when Powell picked off a Tayvein Ward pass at the Bears 30 yardline. Highlighted by a 38-yard aerial from Rodgers to Jarmarcus White (one of six different HCHS receivers to catch a pass in the game), the Bears marched 70 yards in 10 plays capped by a three-yard TD strike from Rodgers to Powell. Barnes booted the PAT for a 40-0 lead with 8:21 left in the game.

Bertie’s Jahkelvin Rascoe returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to the HCHS 40. Five plays later, Rascoe finished what he started by grabbing a 30-yard touchdown pass from Ward. Jerry Mabine added the conversion run.

Futrell added a late touchdown on a 33-yard scamper and then tacked on the conversion run to account for the final outcome.

Other than Outlaw’s long TD run late in the first quarter, Hertford County’s other two scores in the first half came courtesy of a two-yard run by Camren Stephenson and a 23-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Powell.

Bertie missed out on two scoring opportunities earlier in the game.

Highlighted by a 39-yard run in the second quarter by Rascoe, the Falcons drove from their own 23 to the HCHS 20 in 10 plays. However, on a fourth down and four play, Mabine was stopped one yard short of the marker by HCHS defender Dawon Speller (who led the Bears with seven tackles and one sack).

Early in the third quarter following the fumble recovery by Perry, a first down run by Dedmon reached inside the HCHS 10 yardline, but the play was nullified by a holding call on the Falcons.

Bertie finished with 159 total yards, led by Rascoe’s 67 rushing yards and 29 from Dedmon.

The Falcons (0-3) are back in action this Friday (Sept. 9) with a non-conference outing at First Flight High School.

Hertford County (3-0) has a week off to prepare for their Northeastern Coastal Conference opener at Currituck on Sept. 16.

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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