Bertie runs past Pam Pack, 38-20

Published 12:22 am Saturday, September 16, 2017

Washington dealt potential knockout blows to end the first half and begin the second half.

Bertie was momentarily staggered, but regained its footing, beating Washington 38-20 Friday at Wagner Stadium in the Pam Pack’s final non-conference tune up.

“We’ve lost two games by a combined eight points,” Bertie coach Grantley Mizelle said. “We’ve been where they were. We didn’t lay down like we have in the past, and that was the difference.”

Already with a 16-13 lead in the waning minutes of the first half, Bertie was poised to gain some breathing room, but on fourth-and-3 at the Pam Pack 6, Falcon running back Lacurtis Askew was taken down by Washington’s Nazzir Hardy to stop the drive inches short with only seconds left before halftime.

Washington’s Tyshawn Roberson hammered the ball loose from Bertie during the second-half kickoff, and Hardy recovered. Hykeem Ruffin capitalized quickly, sprinting in from 22 yards for the score on the next play to give the Pam Pack its first lead of the game at 20-16.

Washington forced a three-and-out as Cooper Anderson had a tackle for loss, followed by sacks by Khyrie McCloud and Ganeryan Parker. But the Pam Pack couldn’t take advantage after taking over at midfield, punting the ball back.

The Falcons roared back, rumbling 86 yards in 14 plays and eating up more than seven minutes. Quarterback Isaiah Williams took care of the final six yards as Bertie’s bigger line simply pushed him and the pile of humanity into the end zone. Williams added the conversion run to put the Falcons up 24-20.

Bertie never trailed again.

“We had a whole lot of belief going into halftime,” Washington coach Jon Blank said. “The score was 16-13. The guys really believed we were going to come out and win the second half.“

Washington responded by driving to the Bertie 21, only to fumble the snap away to the Falcons. Bertie went 83 yards on 11 plays, all on the ground.

The Falcons then recovered an onside kick and scored another touchdown less than two minutes later to take command.

Bertie rolled up 402 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 59 carries. Askew led the way with 223 yards and two touchdowns rushing on 31 carries.“We were outmatched physically,” Blank said. “We had to put them in a position to make them guess with some different stunts and different blitzes.

“We tried a whole lot to stop them just running right at us. We were completely ineffective on the defensive side of the ball. It’s disheartening to see yard after yard grind it out and you can’t get off the field.”

Mizelle was planning to set up more play-action, but shelved it because of his team’s ability to continue running the ball effectively and moving the chains.

“We ran hard,” he said. “The offensive line … I can’t be more proud of them. Two juniors, a sophomore and two seniors. They played their butts off.”

Ruffin finished with 97 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 15 carries. Ka’ci Foreman added 90 yards on the ground on 18 attempts.

Washington will travel to Snow Hill to take on Greene Central in its 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference opener next Friday.

“The positive outlook is you’re 0-0 in the conference, and the outlook is to go and win the conference,” Blank said. “We’ve had a very difficult conference schedule. Bertie is not a bad football team. We’re battle tested. At this point, trying to get our confidence back is going to be a struggle.”

Washington’s opening drive featured Foreman running with the ball on the Pam Pack’s first five plays from scrimmage. But the drive stalled, and Hunter Hall’s 27-yard field-goal attempt was blocked due in part to a bad snap.

Bertie recovered the block at its own 45 and went on a 12-play march. Williams converted two fourth downs and Askew did most of the rest, including the last 10 yards where he went off right tackle and cut back up the middle. He also threw a pass to Marcus Philyaw for the two-point conversion and an early 8-0 advantage.

The Pam Pack answered quickly. Keyed by a 24-yard run by Washington quarterback Frederick Holscher, Ruffin sprinted into the end zone from 10 yards out, and Hall’s point-after attempt cut the Falcons’ lead to one.

Bertie pieced together another scoring drive, finished by Chris Cooper’s 15-yard rumble up the middle. A keeper conversion run by quarterback Nate Cheeseboro staked the Falcons to a 16-7 lead.

Washington ensuing drive spanned 11 plays and all the yardage was on the ground. Ruffin’s 3-yard plunge on fourth-and-goal brought the Pam Pack within 16-13.