Late surge sends ‘Barons past Bertie

Published 11:13 am Thursday, October 13, 2022

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GATESVILLE – Gates County scored three, fourth quarter touchdowns, turning a narrow 16-14 lead into a 39-14 homecoming game win here Friday night against Bertie.

After Bertie had closed to within 16-14 thanks to a tackle-breaking, 73-yard touchdown scamper by Molique Dedmon on the second snap of the fourth quarter, the momentum quickly shifted back to the Gates County sideline.

With a full head of steam, Semaj Cross gathered in the game’s ensuing kickoff at his own 17 yardline, raced untouched up the middle, and then cut to the outside en route to an 83-yard touchdown. Damari Cooper ran in the conversion, extending the Red Barons lead to 10 points (24-14) with 11:29 left in the game.

Gates County’s Damari Cooper (#1) looks for a crease as he reels off part of his game-high 127-yard rushing effort in Friday night’s home win vs. Bertie. Photo by Charles Revelle

The Falcons tried to bounce back, driving to the Gates County 40 on their next possession, but back-to-back tackles for loss by GCHS defender T.J. Reid plus a delay of game flag against the visitors stalled the drive.

Taking over near midfield on loss of downs, Gates County drove 51 yards in six plays capped by a nine-yard, tackle-breaking touchdown run by Cross. Jeremiah Dillard added the conversion run as the ‘Barons padded their lead to 32-14 with 4:49 left.

Bertie’s ensuing drive ended with a short punt that allowed Gates County to set up shop at the Falcons 43 yardline. Three plays later, Cooper blasted up the middle and rumbled 37 yards to paydirt. Makenzie Curry booted the PAT to round out the scoring with 92 seconds left in the game.

The game’s outcome could have been different had Bertie not missed out on scoring opportunities on their first two possessions.

Starting a drive from their own 45, the Falcons moved to Gates County’s 34 yardline in six plays. From there, Jahkelvin Rascoe reeled off a touchdown run, but it was negated by an illegal motion penalty. Three plays later, Bertie lost possession on downs at the GCHS 36 yardline.

After a three-and-out by the Red Barons, Bertie gained possession near midfield following a punt. Despite another motion penalty, the Falcons quickly moved into the redzone thanks to a 40-yard scamper by Rascoe. But the flags kept coming against Bertie as a motion penalty and a delay of game call stalled the promising drive and the Bertie surrendered possession on downs at the Red Barons 12 yardline.

For the game, Bertie was penalized 18 times for 136 yards.

A short punt by Gates County ended their next possession, allowing Bertie to begin a drive at the Red Barons 37 yardline. Consecutive runs by Xeavier Sneed advanced the pigskin to the 21 yardline. From there, D.J. Spruill rambled into the endzone that coupled with Sneed’s conversion run staked the Falcons to an 8-0 lead at the 9:54 mark of the second quarter.

The Red Barons, who had produced only one net yard of offense up until this point, answered with a scoring drive of their own.

Changing into a double wing look on offense, Gates County used the legs of Dillard, Cooper, and Cross on nine running plays to cover 46 yards. The tenth play went to Dorien Melton who, on a fourth-and-one play from the 19, ran behind the right side of the line and then cut to the middle and into the endzone. Melton also added the conversion run to tie the game at 8-8 with 4:39 left before halftime.

Gates County then successfully executed an onside kick, which was recovered by Jamell Reid. Despite being backed up on an illegal block penalty, the Red Barons drove 61 yards in 10 plays capped by Dillard’s one-yard TD run. Melton rammed in the conversion run, increasing Gates County’s lead to 16-8 with 16 seconds left in the first half.

The Red Barons finished the game with 271 yards of total offense, all on the ground. Cooper led that effort with 127 yards on 18 carries. Melton chipped in 67 yards on just four carries while Dillard (11-39) and Cross (11-38) added to the effort.

Bertie’s offense was also run-oriented, producing 238 yards. Dedmon (5 carries for 88 yards), Rascoe (5-56), Spruill (9-44), and Sneed (7-36) led the Falcons.

With the win, Gates County improved to 3-4 overall and notched their first win of the season in Four Rivers Conference play.

Bertie fell to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the league standings.

The Red Barons hit the road later this week (Friday, Oct. 14) for a league outing at Washington County. Bertie will be at home on the same date, hosting Perquimans County in a conference test.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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