On a night when Nash Central couldn’t help itself, its opponent nearly handed away a gift.
The Bulldogs were scoreless, frustrated and lacking a spark before visiting Hertford County – confused by what down they were playing – inadvertently attempted a fourth-and-long in their own territory.
Surely, the Bears weren’t going for first down while holding a 13-point lead.
They did, and it nearly came back to bite them.
Nash Central’s defense held, its offense scored, and all of a sudden, the Bulldogs were in a game that could easily have gotten away from it.
That was the good.
The bad was that Nash Central couldn’t sustain the momentum, allowing Hertford County to chew away time and leave the Bulldogs’ offense desperate and out of time in the waning seconds of a 13-8 loss in their home opener.
“We knew it would go down to the end,” Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup said. “If we could get a couple good plays, we could win it.”
That was the night in a sentence for the Bulldogs, who showed spurts of success on offense but not enough to run their winning streak to three games.
Nash Central (2-2) fumbled away twice on the night and failed to convert a fourth-and-goal from the Bears’ 3-yard line.
Its backfield played courageously. Jarius Richardson (knee injury) finished with 64 yards rushing, while his brother, Jarrod, who missed last week’s victory against
Roanoke Rapids, finished with 52 yards on just five carries in the second half.
Nash Central drove 37 yards – 30 on a run by Jarrod and capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by Jarius – to pull within 13-8 with 5:40 to play.
“I knew my time would come on offense,” Jarrod Richardson said.
Hertford County took four minutes off the clock by converting a third-and-9. By the time Nash Central regained possession of the ball, it was 71 yards away with only 1:45 to play.
The Bulldogs’ drive ended when Khalil Macklin was forced out of bounds on a fourth-and-9 on the Hertford County 40-yard line with 25 seconds remaining.
The mistakes were too many to overcome on both sides of the ball. The turnovers, combined with an inefficient passing game (1-for-9, 5 yards) doomed the Bulldogs.
Poor spurts of tackling hurt the Bulldogs early, and a personal foul aided another Bears touchdown drive early in the second half.
The passion and energy shown on the sidelines late in the game by the Bulldogs surfaced too late on a night when they couldn’t muster the same between the hashmarks in a nonconference game.
“They are very confident young men,” Crudup said. “We’re just trying to show them that we’re a team. Win or lose, we’re going to go down as a team together. Just because we had a tough game doesn’t mean we’re going to splinter. It’s a long season.”
Hertford County 13
Nash Central 8
HC 6 0 7 0 – 13
NC 0 0 0 8 – 8
HC – Ryan Weaver 14 run (conversion failed), 3:52
HC – Dorrien Askew 1 run (Ackerman Grace kick), 6:52
NC – Jarius Richardson 4 run (Richardson conversion), 5:40
21 First downs.............11
26 Passing yards.........5
266 Total offense..........214
Rushing – HC: Ryan Weaver 7-80; Jarret Sexton 9-46; Dorrien Askew 14-37; Anthony Lassiter 9-35; Kenneth Sharpe Jr. 8-32; Brandon Staton 2-8; Kevin Privott 1-2. NC: Collin Staton 5-84; Jarius Richardson 14-64; Jarrod Richardson 5-52; Khalil Macklin 10-9. Passing – HC: Ryan Weaver 4-8, 26; Dorrien Askew 0-1, 0. NC: Khalil Macklin 1-9, 5. Receiving – HC: Jemel Monger 1-15; Kevin Privott 1-10; Christopher Jordan 1-7; Anthony Lassiter 1-(-6). NC: Jarius Richardson 1-5.