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Late rally pushes HCHS past First Flight

AHOSKIE – When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Hertford County High School scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, rallying from an 18-12 halftime deficit to defeat First Flight High School, 26-18, here Saturday afternoon in a Northeastern Coastal Conference football game.

With the win, the Bears improved to 2-1 overall while evening their conference record at 1-1.

After a scoreless third quarter, Hertford County was able to put together some offense at just the right time.

Taking over at their own 29 yardline following a First Flight punt, the Bears drove 71 yards in just three plays for the game-tying touchdown.

On first down, quarterback Tye Saxby hooked up with Bryant Williams for 43 yards. After a running play that ended with no gain, Saxby tossed a 28-yard scoring pass to Elijah Winley. Tyree Coatney ran in the two-point conversion, and the Bears had the lead for-keeps at 20-18 with 5:58 left in the contest.

Hertford County’s defense rose to the occasion on the game’s ensuing series where Shyclef Cargil intercepted a First Fight pass at the Nighthawks 35 yardline and returned it to the 15.

Four plays later, Saxby called his own number and powered his way into the endzone on a two-yard touchdown run. The conversion run was stopped, but the Bears held a 26-18 advantage with 3:23 left in the game.

Any hopes for a First Flight rally ended four plays later as the HCHS defense stiffened and stopped the Nighthawks on fourth down. The Bears took over on the visitors 46 yardline and ran out the clock.

The Bears scored first, taking the game’s opening kickoff and driving 60 yards in five plays, capped by Saxby’s 40-yard TD pass to Devin Edwards. The conversion run failed, leaving Hertford County with a 6-0 lead at the 10:37 mark of the first quarter.

First Flight rallied for three straight touchdowns to grab an 18-6 lead.

Seventeen seconds later, on the first snap after Hertford County’s touchdown, Johmar Hernandez raced 53 yards to the endzone to tie the game at 6-6.

First Flight surged ahead 12-6 at the 7:29 mark of the first quarter when Cullen McNinch capped a short drive after an interception with his nine-yard touchdown run.

The Nighthawks scored again at the 8:30 mark of the second quarter, again set up by a Hertford County turnover when the Bears lost a fumble at their own 23 yardline. Cole Tomlin capped that short drive with a one-yard scoring run to extend the First Flight lead to 18-6.

Hertford County trimmed that deficit to 18-12 later in the second period, driving 48 yards in five plays capped by Saxby’s 17-yard scoring pass to Kyree Pitt with 35 seconds remaining until halftime.

The Bears amassed 381 total yards of offense. Saxby highlighted that effort, connecting on 14 of 27 passes for 227 yards. HCHS added 154 rushing yards on 35 carries, led by Jaheem Thompson with 74 yards on 11 carries. Saxby added 56 rushing yards on 14 attempts.

First Flight finished with 168 total yards: 96 on the ground and 72 through the air.

Hertford County travels to Barco this Friday (March 26) to meet league foe Currituck County.