Bears run past Bertie; extend win streak to 17 games

Published 5:46 pm Saturday, September 2, 2023

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AHOSKIE – The streak continues.

Hertford County senior quarterback Keveon Rodgers looks for a running lane in Friday’s win over Bertie. Rodgers rushed for 79 yards and one touchdown while passing for 56 yards and two more scores as the Bears improved their early season record to 2-1 overall. Photo by William Anthony

Combining an offense that produced 366 total yards with a defense that came up with four turnovers plus a safety, Hertford County pushed its win streak to 17 consecutive games against rival Bertie here Friday night where the Bears defeated their non-conference guests, 39-8.

Bertie’s last win in this ages-old rivalry came on Nov. 2, 2007 in Ahoskie where the Falcons bagged a 34-3 victory. The two teams met twice in 2009 and 2010 and didn’t play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bertie did appear to have a ray of hope in Friday’s game, trailing only 18-8 at halftime and drove to the Bears 16 yardline with the opening possession of the second half. But that drive – which was their most productive of the night – nine plays, 48 yards highlighted by a 16-yard pass from Jeremiah Benthall to Javion Leary – ended on a failed fourth down pass attempt.

From that point forward, the Bears seized control, beginning with a 10 play drive that covered 84 yards and took a shade over six minutes to complete. Highlighted by a 22-yard scamper by Keveon Rodgers on a third down snap, two runs totaling 12 yards from Elijah Outlaw, and an 11-yard blast from Rodgers on a 4th-and-2 play, the Bears marched to Bertie’s 27 yardline. Wayne Futrell took over from there, first with a 13-yard run followed by his 14-yard scamper into the endzone. The conversion pass failed, but the Bears had extended their lead to 24-8 with 1:25 left in the third period.

Bertie’s next possession ended with a turnover when HCHS defender Rimiez Williams picked off a pass and returned his theft to the Falcons 20 yardline. Rodgers scored on a 14-yard run on the first snap of the fourth quarter. Tydrevion Joyner booted the PAT for a 31-8 lead.

HCHS defender ZhaeTwan Wells had two big plays for the Bears on the game’s ensuing possession. He sacked Benthall for a two-yard loss on a second down play at the Falcons 29 yardline. After a motion penalty against Bertie backed the ball up to the 24, Benthall dropped back to pass, but came under a heavy rush from three HCHS defenders, to include Wells. The ball popped free and Benthall recovered it in the endzone for a touchdown. The PAT kick was blocked by Molique Dedmon, but the Bears had increased their advantage to 37-8 at the 10:29 mark of the fourth quarter.

On the game’s ensuing series, Benthall again came under a heavy rush on a third down play at his own 43 yardline. As he turned to avoid the rush, the ball went backwards, rolling all the way through and out of the back of the endzone for a safety, increasing the HCHS lead to 39-8.

While it was the Hertford County defense that dominated the second half, the Bears offense was in high gear in the first quarter, scoring on its first two drives to take a 12-0 lead.

Junior running back Jerry Mabine led the Falcons in their game at Hertford County on Friday night as he rushed for 42 yards and score his team’s only touchdown. Photo by William Anthony

Despite using a 43-yard run by Outlaw to Bertie’s 17 yardline on the game’s initial series, the Bears had to overcome their own mistakes to score the game’s first touchdown. Four consecutive penalties (three for illegal shifts and one for holding) had HCHS facing first down and 35 yards to go from Bertie’s 42 yardline. However, a five-yard pass from Rodgers to Jayden Robinson followed by back-to-back runs by Futrell totaling 25 yards moved the pigskin to the 15 yardline. On a 4th down and 8 play from that point, Rodgers tossed a 15-yard scoring pass to Williams. The conversion run failed, but the Bears had the lead at 6-0 at the 7:14 mark of the first quarter.

After forcing Bertie to punt away its first possession, the Bears mounted a five play, 54-yard drive capped by a 23-yard TD strike from Rodgers to Williams. Again, the conversion run failed, but the Bears had doubled their lead to 12-0 with 2:41 left in the opening period.

Following a second quarter fumble recovery by HCHS defender Lynwood Harmon Jr., Outlaw extended the Bears lead to 18-0 when he broke three tackles on his way to a 48-yard touchdown run.

Outlaw would finish as the game’s leading rusher with 148 yards on 17 carries.

Bertie’s only score of the game came with 55 seconds left in the first half. Set-up at the HCHS 20 yardline after the Bears failed to convert on fourth down, it took the Falcons only three plays to score. Jerry Mabine had that honor when he barreled his way to paydirt from four yards out. Benthall added the conversion run, allowing the Falcons to only trail by 10 points (18-8) at halftime.

Hertford County finished with 366 yards of total offense, 310 of which came on the ground. Other than Outlaw’s effort, Rodgers added 79 rushing yards on six attempts while Futrell chipped in 47 yards on eight carries.

Bertie netted 66 yards of total offense, led by Mabine’s 42 rushing yards on 12 carries.

Both teams were bogged down by penalties. Bertie was flagged 16 times for 105 yards while HCHS committed 16 penalties for 101 yards.

Bertie (0-3) will travel to First Flight on Friday, Sept. 8 for their final non-conference test. Kickoff on the Outer Banks is set for 7 p.m.

Hertford County (2-1) has an open date on Sept. 8. Their next outing is home against conference foe Currituck County on Sept. 15.

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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