Bears fall in high-scoring thriller

Published 11:18 am Saturday, November 18, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

ROCKY MOUNT – For the second straight year, Hertford County’s football season ended in the third round of the NCHSAA Class 2A State Playoffs.

Hertford County senior quarterback threw for a school record eight touchdowns in Friday’s 71-68 loss at Nash Central in the third round of the Class 2A State Playoffs. Photo by William Anthony

For the second straight year, that game came down to the wire.

Despite a school record eight touchdown passes by senior quarterback Keveon Rodgers – four of which went to speedy wide receiver Rimiez Williams – the Bears came out on the short end of a wild 71-68 game at Nash Central High School.

Rodgers also had a rushing touchdown while Williams added a score on special teams by returning a kickoff to paydirt.

However, Nash Central countered with a Rodgers of their own – running back James Rodgers who rushed for six touchdowns.

Trailing 52-36 at halftime, the Bears got back in the game thanks to a pair of scoring passes from Keveon Rodgers. He first connected with Williams for a 61-yard score and after the HCHS defense stopped Nash Central in the redzone, Rodgers orchestrated a drive capped by his 16-yard TD pass to Jar’Marcus White. The Bears were successful on one of the two conversion attempts, leaving them trailing 52-50 with four minutes left in the third period.

James Rodgers gave Nash Central some breathing room by scoring the game’s next two touchdowns. He reached the endzone on a 3-yard run late in the third quarter and added a 4-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter where the Bulldogs held a 65-50 advantage.

But no lead is safe against Hertford County’s quick strike offense.

The Bears got to within 65-56 when the Rodgers-to-Williams connection clicked for a 44-yard touchdown. The HCHS special teams set up the next score when Lynwood Harmon, on the ensuing kickoff, recovered a fumble at the Bulldogs 22 yardline. That set up a short drive capped by a 4-yard TD pass from Rodgers to Williams. The conversion failed, but the Bears had rallied to within 65-62 with four minutes left in the contest.

James Rodgers quickly shifted the momentum back to the home team when he took off on a 74-yard run to paydirt. The PAT kick failed, but Nash Central led by two possessions (71-62) with three minutes remaining.

Hertford County refused to surrender, putting together a quick drive that ended with a 5-yard TD pass from Keveon Rodgers to Elijah Outlaw. The conversion failed, leaving the Bears down by three (71-68).

HCHS failed to recover the ensuing onside kick and Nash Central ran out the clock to preserve the win.

The first quarter produced a combined 51 points.

James Rodgers gave the home team a 7-0 lead with his 30-yard TD scamper. HCHS answered with a 19-yard scoring pass from Keveon Rodgers to Williams. Rodgers ran in the conversion as the Bears led 8-7.

Nash Central responded with a drive that ended with Javaris Jones scoring on a 29 yard run. The PAT kick gave them a 14-8 advantage.

Back came the Bears when Keveon Rodgers tossed a 74 yard scoring pass to White. The conversion failed, leaving a 14-14 tie.

Following a Nash Central punt, the Bears used a long pass from Rodgers to Jayden Robinson to reach the red zone. However, it was the Bulldogs who scored as Nash Central defender Tyzie Arrington scooped up a fumble and raced 85 yards for a touchdown. The PAT kick gave the home team a 21-14 lead.

The Bears answered quickly when Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a score. Outlaw ran in the conversion, putting Hertford County on top, 22-21.

The ‘Dogs and their rugged ground game put together a drive capped by Isaiah Draughn’s 3-yard TD run. Jones ran in the conversion as the home team reclaimed the lead, 29-22.

Herford County’s next two possessions ended on loss of downs.

Nash Central added to its lead at the midway mark of the second quarter where James Rodgers reeled off a 34-yard TD run. The PAT kick was good for a 36-22 lead.

The Bears responded with a scoring drive that ended with Keveon Rodgers reaching the endzone on a 39-yard run. He then added the conversion run, trimming the Bears deficit to 36-30 with just over two minutes remaining before halftime.

Hertford County’s momentum was brief as Nash Central scored quickly on a 60-yard run by James Rodgers. Jones ran in the conversion as the Bulldogs stretched their lead back to 14 (44-30).

Both teams each scored one more touchdown before the first half expired.

The Bears hit a big play when Rodgers tossed an 85-yard scoring pass to Outlaw. The conversion run failed.

Jones answered for Nash Central, capping a drive with his 2-yard TD run and conversion run as the Bulldogs led 52-36 at halftime.

Hertford County ended its season at 10-3 overall.

(Larry Carter provided the scoring summary for this story.)