Bears edge Aces on Senior Night

Published 5:55 pm Sunday, October 29, 2023

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AHOSKIE – Keveon Rodgers perhaps saved his best for last.

Protected in the pocket by teammates Keonte Coatney (#53) and Elijah Outlaw (right), Hertford County quarterback Keveon Rodgers picked apart the Edenton-Holmes defense for 404 passing yards and five touchdowns in Friday’s 48-44 win by the Bears. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Hertford County’s all-time leading passer added to that legacy here Friday night, throwing for 404 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for another score as the Bears celebrated Senior Night with a hard-fought 48-44 win over Edenton-Holmes.

The win allowed the Bears to finish the regular season with an 8-2 overall record. They will host St. Pauls High School (6-4 overall) in this Friday’s (Nov. 3) opening round of the NCHSAA Class 2A State Playoffs.

But before HCHS could celebrate another trip to the post-season, the Bears first had to contend with a talented Edenton team. The last time the Aces visited Ahoskie, they pinned a 48-38 loss on Rodgers and his teammates during the 2021 season. Last year’s win by the Bears at Edenton was a high-scoring affair (64-57).

Edenton proved once again as a formidable foe this season as the Aces, trailing 26-14 at halftime, scored on three straight possessions to open the third quarter and took their only lead of the game at 35-32. The first two of those scores came on runs of 41 and 6 yards by Divon Ward. The go-ahead touchdown came with 6:37 left in the period on a six-yard pass from Fisher Bobbitt to Jonathan Spears.

Ward’s game-high 213 rushing yards led Edenton’s ground game that saw the visitors amass 402 yards on 50 carries.

But while the Bears struggled to stop the run, the Aces defense had no answer for Hertford County’s aerial attack.

Edenton’s lead lasted only 19 seconds. On first down following the ensuing kickoff, Rodgers hit Rimiez Williams in stride with a long pass that produced a 69-yard touchdown. Rodgers then connected with Jayden Robinson on the conversion pass as the Bears took the lead for-keeps at 40-35.

The Aces answered with a long drive that reached the Bears three yardline, but the HCHS defense – highlighted by Rodgers tackling Ward for a seven-yard loss – stiffened that point, forcing Edenton to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Mark Perez that allowed the visitors to trim their deficit to 40-38 with eight seconds left in the third quarter.

Neither team scored again until just before the midway mark of the fourth quarter. There, the Rodgers-to-Williams touchdown connection worked again, this time for 57 yards. Rodgers ran in the conversion as the Bears stretched their lead to 10 (48-38) with 6:16 remaining in the game.

Highlighted by a 35-yard run by Spears on a 4th-and-1 play, Edenton drove 59 yards in seven plays, capped by Amaree Jackson’s three-yard TD run. However, Perez’s PAT kick bounced off the left upright, leaving the Aces with a 48-44 deficit with 3:56 left in the contest.

The Bears needed at least two first downs to milk the remaining time off the clock and senior Elijah Outlaw did just that on two runs of 10 and 11 yards…the first coming on a 3rd-and-1 play from his own 29 yardline.

The two old rivals each scored on their respective first possessions.

Hertford County’s 7-0 lead came courtesy of a six-play, 73-yard drive capped by a 30-yard TD pass from Rodgers to senior Jar’Marcus White followed by the PAT kick off the foot of senior Raymond Lewter Jr. That drive, on which Rodgers was 4-for-4 passing for 65 yards, took only one minute and 49 seconds.

Rimiez Williams (center) reaches for an Edenton pass that he knocked away from his defensive back position. Williams also had a big game offensively, catching six passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns to help the Bears win their regular season finale. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Edenton answered just as quickly, scoring one minute and 49 seconds later when Ward took off on a 64-yard sprint to paydirt. Perez’s PAT tied the score at 7-7.

Hertford County came right back. Highlighted by a 39-yard pass from Rodgers to Robinson (one of eight plays by the Bears covering 30 yards or more), HCHS drove 80 yards in eight plays capped by Outlaw’s 12-yard TD run. Lewter tacked on the PAT for a 14-7 HCHS lead at the 5:15 mark of the first quarter.

Outlaw finished the game as the Bears leading rusher with 84 yards on 11 carries.

The Aces tied the game at 14-14 early in the second quarter, driving 58 yards in six plays capped by Ky Basnight’s 10-yard TD run and the PAT kick by Perez.

Hertford County scored twice inside the final five minutes of the first half for their 26-14 lead at the break. Both scores came on long touchdown passes by Rodgers: 46 yards to Williams and 57 yards to Outlaw.

Williams (six receptions for 194 yards) and Outlaw (two catches covering 95 yards) led the HCHS corps of receivers.

For the game, HCHS amassed 577 total yards.

Edenton’s offense had 462 total yards. In addition to Ward’s big night on the ground, Spears also reached triple digits rushing with 166 yards on just nine carries. Six of his carries were for 15 yards or more.


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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