The team that last defeated the Havelock Rams almost two years ago, the New Bern Bears, did it again Friday night, 25-21.
The loss snapped Havelock’s 31-game win streak, the longest in the state.
The Bears built a lead, lost it and fell behind and then scored again late to knock off the Rams in front of a capacity crowd.
Mike Hughes was responsible for 24 of the Bears’ 25 points on the night, with touchdown runs of 33, 8, 43 and 79 yards, with the latter coming with 2:40 left in the game.
He finished the night with 17 carries for 186 yards and the four scores.
“He’s just a special player and definitely was for us again tonight,” New Bern coach Bobby Curlings said. “That’s why he plays quarterback for us instead of defensive back or wide receiver because we want to get the ball in his hands as much as we can. I’d snap it to him every time if we could.”
Hughes staked the Bears to 19-7 lead at halftime.
Havelock responded when Keion Joyner blocked Hughes’ punt and Dallas Frazier scooped and scored from six yards out.
Trailing 19-14 with 46.8 seconds left in the third quarter, Travis Sabdo found Matt Boykin behind the defense for a 38-yard score, putting the Rams up 21-19.
Every ounce of momentum was seemingly with the home-team Rams.
Then, facing 3rd-and-9 from their own 21-yard line, Hughes darted right through a crowd and scampered 79 yards for a touchdown to put New Bern back ahead 25-21.
“Everybody picking them to beat us weighed in a ton on our mindset and mentality tonight,” Hughes said. “After they scored, I tried to have a short-term memory and it was a busted play and I just took what they gave me.”
After Hughes’ score, Havelock executed a drive down to the New Bern 38-yard line but failed to reach the end zone, turning the ball and the game over to the Bears.
The dramatic, hard-fought win was the second in the past three years for Curlings’ crew over the Rams, both on Sasser Field in Havelock.
“I don’t know what it is about this field and us, but I wish we could bottle it up and take it with us,” he said with a sly half-smile. “Havelock is a well-coached, championship team with great players and coaches and we knew when we got up 19-7, they weren’t going to roll over and give it to us, we had to earn it.”
Sabdo threw for 251 yards on 18-for-32 passing for Havelock in the loss.
Boykin had a rushing and receiving touchdown and Kyran Bowman caught nine balls for 89 yards as well for the Rams.
“We gotta get better,” a straight-to-the-point Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said. “We got beat in the kicking game, giving them some good returns that turned into scores and we just didn’t get it done. Give them credit, they made enough big plays to win and we didn’t.”
New Bern (2-0) will host West Craven (0-2) next week, while Havelock (1-1) hosts Jones Senior (0-2).
New Bern 0 19 0 6 - 25
Havelock 0 7 14 0 – 21
H – Matt Boykin 8 run (Dylan Baker kick)
NB – Mike Hughes 33 run (Juan Martinez kick)
NB – Hughes 8 run (2-point conversion failed)
NB – Hughes 43 run (kick failed)
H – Dallas Frazier 6 return of blocked punt by Keion Joyner (Baker kick)
H – Boykin 38 pass from Travis Sabdo (Baker kick)
NB – Hughes 79 run (2-point conversion failed)
Total Offense 282 338
First Downs 10 19
Rushes-Yards 37-247 33-87
Passing Yards 35 251
Comp-Att-Int 4-12-0 18-32-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 9-60 5-60
Punts-Avg. 6-33.5 4-39.5
Passing:New Bern – Mike Hughes 4-12-35 yards, Havelock – Travis Sabdo 18-32-251 yards (TD).
Rushing:New Bern – Hughes 17-186 (4 TDs), D.J. Howard 6-37, Ray’shi Bolds 12-18, Marcus Henderson 2-6, Havelock – Tony Sharpe 13-50, Sabdo 11-15, Matt Boykin 5-14 (TD), Donte Stackhouse 1-5, Montrece Gatling 5-3.
Receiving: New Bern – Henderson 1-24, Rasheed McCoy 2-8, Craig Stokes 1-3, Havelock – Boykin 4-96 (TD), Kyran Bowman 9-89, Taron Wallace 3-63, Dallas Frazier 2-30.
Jordan Honeycutt is a reporter for the Havelock News.