Pasquotank County got off to a great start, and played hard throughout the football game. They just couldn’t reach the end zone enough to hold off First Flight High School. In a game that had just a one score difference until the final minutes, the Nighthawks held off the Panthers by the final score of 20-6. Despite a 40 minute weather delay, a good crowd turned out for the homecoming game Friday night in Elizabeth City.
The Panther fans had a lot to cheer about early in the Northeastern Coastal Conference matchup.
First Flight [3-5, 2-4 Northeastern Coastal Conference] attempted a backward onside kick to start the game which Pasquotank [0-7,0-6 NCC] recovered on their own 47 yard line. On their very first play from scrimmage, quarterback John Burgess handed off to Christopher Morgan on a quick dive play up the middle. Morgan split the secondary, and went all the way for a touchdown. The conversion rush failed, but the Panthers led 6-0 just 16 seconds into the game.
A fired up defense forced the Nighthawks to punt after three plays, and Pasquotank took their second possession at their own 25 yard line. A ten play drive stalled when First Flight stopped a fourth down run at their own 41 yard line. It took the Nighthawks six plays to score the equalizer. First Flight quarterback Azrael Simpson gained 12 yards on a keeper. Running back Kendrick Pierce gained 13 yards down the right sideline, and 15 yards were added on for a late hit out of bounds. Four plays later Gage Tomlin ran it in on a first and goal from the four yard line. The conversion pass was successful and First Flight led 8-6.
Pasquotank responded with a promising drive of their own. Starting at their own 36 yard line, the marched deep into First Flight territory. The big play was a pass from Burgess to Amari Downing for 28 yards down the right sideline. The Panthers got to the Nighthawk 21 yard line, but the drive stalled and First Flight regained possession after a fourth down sack.
“That was our problem all night long,” said Pasquotank coach Shawn Holley. “We couldn’t finish drives. I am very proud of our guys. We have a very young team, only about four seniors on the roster. The effort has vastly improved over the season. They played hard all night, and we were in this game right to the very end.”
First Flight added to their lead early in the third quarter. Pierce, the workhorse running back for the Nighthawks, got loose around right end, broke several tackles, and scored on a 27 yard run. The conversion was no good, but The Flight now led 14-6.
Pasquotank had their best chance to even up the game early in the fourth quarter. From midfield, Morgan again burst up the middle, this time for 20 yards to the 30 yard line. Three running plays had them in the red zone, but a fumble turned the ball back over to the Nighthawks.
First Flight would later go on a 13 play drive that would use up the clock, and ended with a Pierce 4-yard touchdown run. The score came with 4:02 left in the game. The conversion was no good, so Pasquotank still had a chance if they could score quickly. James Lumsden did his part. The junior made an inspiring kick return, breaking tackles, out to the 47 yard line. However, another fumble two plays later ended the Panther chances.
Morgan was the stat leader for the Panthers, rushing for 135 yards on 15 attempts, accounting for more than half of the Pasquotank total offense. On the opposite side of the ledger, Pierce had 134 yards on 14 carries, and two touchdowns.