For the first time all season, L.C. Bird trailed at halftime when Hermitage led 7-6 Friday. Outside of the Lake Taylor game, no team had truly tested the Skyhawks for a full contest, either.
A young Hermitage Panthers team kept things interesting before Bird pulled away, winning 28-14 to advance to the regional final to face Atlee this Friday at 7 p.m. at Dutchman Field.
“It was dumb mistakes (in the first half),” said L.C. Bird Head Coach David Bedwell. “We knew if we cleaned them up we’d have a chance do better in the second half, and we did.”
Earl Hughes enjoyed another huge performance carrying the ball 42 times for 284 yards and two touchdowns. The younger brother of Norfolk State standout Troi Hughes has now rushed 2,300 yards and 28 touchdowns on the year.
Terrance Ervin finished 12-22 passing for 186 yards and two touchdowns, hauled in by Rasheed Worsham and Shawn Payne. Tyler Wilkins made several key catches, and a hustle play on defense kept Bird from going down more in the first half. Hermitage running back Nate Roscoe fumbled the ball and it rolled into the end zone. Wilkins, at cornerback, raced against a Panthers receiver and recovered the ball, forcing a touchback instead of another score for Hermitage.
Hughes rushed for a 68-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, and rushed for a 67-yard touchdown that would have been a sure backbreaker – if not for a penalty flag. The senior has proven to be a typical Bird running back – a work horse.
Freshman linebacker Rayshard Ashby recorded 11 tackles and defensed two passes to lead Bird. This marked the third time in the last four weeks that the freshman has led the team in tackles.
“One thing is for sure, he plays a lot older than he is,” stated Bedwell.
Another key for the Skyhawks was pressuring quarterback Rashad Robinson in the second half of the game- as Jaylan Lassiter got a sack, while sharing one with Casey Wallace, who also shared a sack with Devin Durham. Wallace, the son of former NBA star Ben Wallace, recorded eight tackles in the game while conference 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Mike Harris added seven tackles.
Atlee defeated Douglas Freeman 24-10 last Friday and will face Bird for the 5A South Region title this Friday. Atlee defeated Meadowbrook 23-6 in the first round and is led by quarterback Reid McCoy.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Hermitage (9-3) 0 - 7 - 7 - 0 -- 14
L.C. Bird (12-0) 0 - 6 - 14 - 8 -- 28