WINDSOR - After surviving two bouts of COVID-19 quarantine, some football news of note came out for the Bertie High Falcons.
The good news for the Blue-and-White was their first football win in two seasons (the Falcons did not field a team last Spring during the pandemic), but the not-so-good news was they couldn’t sustain in, falling in their second game played in a week.
Monday, Zylee Bazemore rushed for 98 yards and a pair of scores while D.J. Spruill and Zykeit Cherry added solo touchdowns and Bertie went on to top Robersonville South Creek 28-16 in the first contest. The victory was also the Falcons’ first in Four Rivers 1A conference play.
But the momentum couldn’t be sustained as they would drop a 43-0 contest at Roy L. Bond Jr. Stadium to Gates County last Friday night.
The Falcons barely topped the century mark with 102 yards of total offense, with 72 of those coming through the air.
“Gates was much more physical,” said first-year coach Colin Sneed. “After getting that first win we didn’t have the numbers last week at practice and it cost us.”
Gates wasted little time, scoring on their first three possessions to take a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Bertie was bottled up for the first 10 minutes of the contest, finally crossing midfield and working their way to the Red Baron 35-yard line before a bad snap and three defensive stops by Gates County left them turning the ball over on downs on the midfield stripe.
Following Gates’ third score, Bertie worked the ball down to the 11-yard line thanks to strong runs by Bazemore and quarterback Jamir Pugh. But Pugh then suffered back-to-back sacks pushing the Falcons beyond the red zone and once again, failing to score and capitalize, the ball went back over to the Red Barons on downs.
Gates then mounted a long 10-play drive, but the Bertie defense stiffened, coupled with a pair of costly penalties, and the ‘Barons were kept out of the end zone for the rest of the half, but still managed a 24-0 lead.
Gates got the ball to open the second half, and in typical Red Baron style, marched downfield and capped the effort with their fourth score of the night bulging their lead out to 30-0.
After missing on a two-point conversion, Gates trotted out kicker McKenzie Curry, and the junior was sure-footed on her first extra point attempt after Gates scored for a fifth time, becoming the first female kicker to score at Bond Stadium. However, she missed on her next attempt, but Gates had once again found paydirt on three consecutive drives, and had a 43-0 lead.
Bertie would not be shut out on the night.
On their next-to-last possession, Kanye Pillmon-Holley set the Falcons up with a kickoff return to their own 40-yard line. Pugh then ripped on a 34-yard run down to the Gates 26-yard line.
Despite a penalty and tackle for loss, Bertie ended up on the 25-yard line, and after an incomplete pass, Pugh hit Bazemore out of the backfield for a six point catch to erase the goose-egg off the board and wipe some premature smiles off some Gates County faces.
C.J. Whitehurst ran in the two-point conversion and each team got to touch to ball once more before the final horn sounded.
Gates finished the night with six scores and 294 total yards. All but one of their scores came on the ground; the other score came on the ‘Barons’ only pass of the night, a 30-yarder that was good for six points.
Pugh was 4-of-10 for 72 yards passing for Bertie. He was also leading rusher with 16 yards on 14 touches. Zylee Bazemore’s lone scoring catch was part of a 48-yard receiving night for the junior. Nasir Jones led Gates County (3-2, 1-2, conference) with 98 yards rushing.
Bertie (1-4, 1-2, conference) continues conference play this Friday night, playing their final road game of the season in Hertford against Perquimans.
“(Perquimans) will be a tough one for our defense,” noted Sneed. “We must contain their quarterback.”
The Falcons then return home for their final two contests: an Oct. 22 Homecoming game against Washington County followed by the season finale Halloween weekend against Martin Coutny rival Riverside High School’s Knights.
Gene Motley can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.