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Mistakes overwhelm Comets

“We beat ourselves.” Those three words from Halifax County High School quarterback Rodzavian Crowell told the story of the Comets’ 34-7 loss to Heritage High School here Friday night at Tuck Dillard Stadium. With starting center Kiaos Ragsdale on the sidelines with a shoulder injury sustained in the previous week’s game, the Comets fell victim to a host of bad exchanges between centers Mark Lloyd and Trey Reese and quarterback Rodzavian Crowell.

There were seven botched exchanges between the centers and the quarterback in the game. One of them resulted in a turnover that led to a Heritage High School touchdown. The other six each resulted in a loss of eight yards or more, losses that killed offensive drives.

“I couldn’t catch the ball sometimes,” Crowell noted.

“I’ve got to be a better athlete and make that play.”

Comets Head Coach Dave Wojtecki agreed that the miscues with the exchange between the centers and quarterback were too much to overcome.

“It throws a huge wrench into your offense,” Wojtecki explained.

“We would start driving a little bit and then, boom, there would be a bad snap or the quarterback wouldn’t catch the snap. It wasn’t always the center’s fault. It was on both of them.”

Crowell had a hand in most of the offense that the Comets generated in the game. Running for 22 yards on 17 carries and throwing for 79 yards and a touchdown, Crowell had a hand in 101 of the 155 yards of offense the Comets generated in the game, most of which came in the fourth quarter.

“At the time, everybody was down and we needed somebody to pick us up,” Crowell said.

“I tried my best to make plays and get the team hyped so we could get going.”

The Comets’ quarterback put the team’s offensive unit on his shoulder for much of the last 15 minutes of the game. He ran the ball or hand a hand in all but three plays in the Comets’ 10-play fourth-quarter scoring drive that covered 63 yards.
The touchdown was far too little and much too late. It came on a 40-yard pass from Crowell to Davon Greene with 1.2 seconds left in the game with the Comets trailing 34-0. Nathaniel Stanger added the extra point to account for the game’s 34-7 final score.

“That (the late touchdown) was the quarterback telling me ‘let’s go ahead and try to get one,’” Wojtecki said.

“That was totally the quarterback’s call. Our quarterback wants the ball. He wants to win. He’s the reason we ran option right and option left at the end of the game. He was the only one that wanted it.”

The Comets had no answer to Heritage High School’s speed.

Heritage High School’s senior running back Antonio Thomas broke to the outside for big gains on several occasions. He scored three touchdowns in the second half on runs of six yards, four yards and five yards respectively.

Junior J.R. Randolph scored for the Pioneers on a 21-yard run to cap the team’s first possession of the second half. That touchdown, which capped a four-play, 71-yard drive, allowed the Pioneers to extend the 8-0 lead they held at halftime to 14-0.

Thomas followed with his three touchdowns, scores that allowed Heritage to run its lead to 34-0 before the Comets scored at the end of the game.

Halifax County also hurt itself with penalties at inopportune times. The worst of those moments occurred during the Pioneers’ third scoring march. Charles Chandler picked off a Heritage High School pass deep in Comets’ territory, apparently stopping the drive. However, a pass interference call against the Comets gave the Pioneers 15 yards and a first down that allowed them to keep the drive alive.

The loss was a tough one for the Comets (1-3) who were trying to get back into the win column after a road win over Person High School the previous weekend.

“There is no sugar-coating it,” said Wojtecki.

“They (Heritage) just lined up and decided they were going to hit us in the mouth and we had no answer for it.”

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