Bears breeze past ‘Barons in season opener
AHOSKIE – Senior running back Tyree Coatney rushed for a game-high 216 yards and three touchdowns while sophomore quarterback Keveon Rodgers, making his first varsity start, ran for two scores and passed for another as Hertford County breezed past Gates County, 51-6, here Thursday night in the football season opener for both teams.
Hertford County’s defense also played well, recovering five Gates fumbles, three of which set-up scoring drives for the offense. Senior defensive end Ansari Williams recovered two of those fumbles while teammates Zarchaeus Savage, Dawon Speller, and Jayden Daniel each pounced on one fumble.
Using a balanced offense (16 rushes and 14 passes) over the opening 24 minutes, the Bears rolled to a 31-0 halftime lead.
After an early exchange of turnovers, the Bears mounted a drive from their 35 yardline. Highlighted by a 30-yard pass from Rodgers to Daniel on a third-and-17 play, Hertford County marched 65 yards in eight plays capped by a 26-yard touchdown run by Rodgers, where he danced past three would-be tacklers inside the 10 yardline. He then connected with Jahaun Bond on the two-point conversion pass for an 8-0 lead at the 6:53 mark of the first quarter.
The Bears found the endzone again less than three minutes later after Williams recovered a ‘Barons fumble at the Gates County 39 yardline. Four plays later, Rodgers and Daniel hooked up on a 22-yard TD pass. The same two connected on the conversion pass for a 16-0 lead.
Gates County put together a nice drive on the game’s ensuing possession, using the strong legs of Nasir Jones and Semaj Cross to move to the Bears 31 yardline. However, the drive stalled at that point and Hertford County took over possession on loss of downs.
One snap later, Coatney took the handoff and darted through a big hole over the left side of the line and raced 69 yards to paydirt. Okoye Cooper ran in the conversion, extending the Bears lead to 24-0 at the 9:09 mark of the second quarter.
Hertford County added one other score before halftime, marching 50 yards in 11 plays capped by a three-yard tochdown run by Rodgers and a PAT kick from Caleb Barnes for their 31-0 lead at intermission.
Gates County’s only score of the game came in the third quarter. Taking over at their own nine yardline following a punt, the Red Barons drove 91 yards in 11 plays capped by a one-yard TD run by Jones. He and Cross combined for 86 rushing yards during that drive.
Hertford County answered with a 39-yard kick-off return from Keith Parker that set up the Bears offense at the Gates County 41 yardline. Six plays later, Bond rushed seven yards to paydirt for a 37-6 lead with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.
Coats rounded out the scoring with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter on runs of 45 and 38 yards. His first TD of the period was followed by a two-point conversion pass from Chorii Woods to Colin Brock.
The Bears amassed 402 yards of total offense. In addition to Coatney’s effort on the ground, Rodgers added five carries for 42 yards while Sean Cruz chipped in 36 yards, also on five attempts.
Rodgers was 9-of-16 passing for 89 yards.
Gates County finished the game with 118 total yards, all on the ground. Cross (10 rushes, 64 yards) and Jones (18-55) led the Red Barons.
Hertford County travels to Tarboro next Friday (Aug. 27). The Vikings are the defending NCHSAA Class 1-AA state champions. Tarboro has won three of the past four state titles in their classification.
Gates County will be at home on Aug. 27 where the Red Barons host Pasquotank High School.