Falcons shock mistake-prone Barons

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

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Sports Correspondent

GATESVILLE – An evening plagued with mistakes and miscues proved too much to overcome here Friday night as Bertie High shocked Gates County High, 30-20, in Four Rivers Conference football action.

Bertie senior Jahkelvin Rascoe (left) races past Gates County defenders during Friday night’s win vs. the Barons. A.A. Imaging / Andre Alfred

The Falcons’ win also produced a four-way tie for second in the league as Perquimans, Martin County, Bertie, and the Barons are all tied at 1-1 behind undefeated Tarboro (2-0).

Set up with great field position after the opening kickoff, Gates was driving deep into Bertie territory when the Barons fumbled at the Falcons’ 21-yard line. Bertie freshman defensive back Jahkii White scooped up the loose pigskin and rumbled 80 yards to the end-zone for a “scoop-and-score and Bertie had an early 6-0 lead after the point-after attempt was stopped.

After the ensuing kickoff, Gates County mounted an eight play drive that reached Bertie’s 14 yard line. But on the next play, the Barons coughed up the ball again and Bertie recovered on their own 10-yard line.

From there, Bertie mounted a long drive, highlighted by Derrick Spruill’s 27-yard run to near mid-field. That drive, which carried over into the second quarter, appeared to run out of steam as the Falcons faced a fourth down play inside the Barons 10 yardline. That’s when Falcon quarterback Tayvien Ward rolled out and hit Mere Dempsey in the end zone and after a successful two-point conversion, Bertie was up by two scores, 14-0, at the 9:30 mark of the second quarter.

Gates couldn’t find the handle on the ensuing kickoff and Bertie’s Nyqway Bazemore fell on the fumble at the Falcons’ 46. However, this time the Red Baron defense stepped up and stopped Bertie with a three-and-out, forcing a punt. The series was highlighted by a sack of Ward by A.J. Hart, dropping him for an eight-yard loss.

That set up a 13-play drive for the Barons that was capped off by DaMari Cooper’s one-yard TD run. A.J. Riddick ran in the two-point conversion, getting Gates to within 14-8 at halftime.

After an exchange of possessions to open the second half, Bertie’s Jahkelvin Rascoe returned a punt to the Gates 44. Three plays later, Molique Dedmon ran off-tackle into the endzone from one yard out. The successful conversion extended Bertie’s lead to 22-8.

Gates County answered quickly as the Barons used a 57-yard run by DeAndrey Smith to get to Bertie’s 13 yardline.

Cooper scored four plays later, but the conversion failed, leaving the Barons facing a 22-14 deficit as the third period came to an end.

Bertie came right back, mounting a drive that ended with a 39-yard TD pass from Ward to Dempsey. Dedmon ran in the conversion, increasing Bertie’s lead to 30-14 with 10:43 left in the game.

Gates’ troubles of hanging onto the ball happened again on the following kickoff as Bertie’s Micah Long fell on the looe pigskin. The Falcons drove to the Baron’s four-yard line, but fumbled and GCHS defender Cam Lee recovered.

The Barons drove 85 yards on 12 plays – nine of them on carries by Cooper – before Wright went in from 11 yards out, closing the gap to 30-20 after another failed conversion.

The ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Falcons, giving Bertie the ball near midfield, and after picking up a pair of first downs they were able to run out the clock.

Cooper led Gates with 245 yards rushing.

Bertie accumulated 140 yards passing from quarterback Ward on 22 attempts. He targeted Mere Dempsey on 16 of those tosses, with two of them for touchdowns.

Bertie gets it’s second win of the season – both on the road, where the Falcons will play all their games this season while their field is being upgraded – thus raising their mark to 2-4 overall.

Gates County had its two-game win streak snapped and falls to 4-3.

Bertie is at Perquimans on Friday while Gates County hosts Washington County.