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Seven turnovers kill Comets in 21-14 loss to Martinsville

Halifax County High School Head Football Coach Dave Wojtecki was obviously frustrated following his team’s 21-14 loss to Martinsville High School Friday night in Martinsville. Despite six turnovers in the form of three fumbles and three intercepted passes, the Comets had a chance to tie the game in the final minute and force into overtime. A seventh turnover, an interception that occurred with 23 seconds remaining in the game, left the Comets a play shy of a possible tie or win.

“A loss is a loss,” Wojtecki said.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re one play away or not. We should have done things better in the first couple of quarters to not give it to them (Martinsville High School) that way.”

Trailing 21-14, the Comets started their last possession of the game with four minutes to go at the Bulldogs’ 39-yard line. A first down at the Bulldogs’ eight-yard line with just over a minute kept the Comets in business, but a penalty took the ball back to the 13-yard line.

Comets quarterback Rodzavian Crowell went for all the marbles with 23 seconds to go, firing a pass toward the end zone. Martinsville High School’s Quan Jones intercepted the pass, sealing the win for the Bulldogs.

It was a tough end to a night on which the Comets, despite the turnovers, had been the dominant team. The Comets rang up 278 yards of offense as compared to 104 for Martinsville. In the second half, the Comets’ defense limited Martinsville to just one first down.

Despite how much his team did right, Wojtecki acknowledged is almost impossible to win when your team commits seven turnovers.

“I didn’t know we had seven (turnovers), but I knew it was up there,” said Wojtecki.

“When you put the ball on the ground, you deserve to lose.”

What appeared to be two missed calls by the game officials upset Wojtecki as much as his team’s turnovers.

“It was the most frustrating loss we’ve had this season,” Wojtecki remarked.

“It was frustrating because of the bad calls we got from the officials.”

Halifax County marched 69 yards in eight plays for a touchdown on its opening possession. Terrance Brandon, who ran for 76 yards on 15 carries in the first half, scored from four yards out with 8:04 left in the first quarter to give the Comets a 6-0 lead. Nathaniel Stanger added the extra point to put Halifax County up 7-0.

Martinsville High School tied the game with 1:03 left in the first quarter when Ishmael Hairston scooped up a fumble by the Comets’ Kendell Adams and raced 72 yards for a touchdown. The extra point tied the game at 7-7.

Adams appeared to have been down before the fumble occurred. However, Hairston picked up the ball and raced untouched into the end zone for a touchdown.

Wojtecki appealed to the officials to change the call, but to no avail.

“It put a little haze over us for awhile,” Wojtecki said of the costly turnover.

“It took us a whole quarter to bounce back.”

After the controversial fumble, Halifax County turned the ball over three more times in the first half, with Martinsville High School capitalizing on a fumble and an interception to take a 21-7 lead at halftime.

The Comets’ offense got into gear in the second half. Halifax County drove 43 yards in seven plays to score a touchdown with 6:19 left in the game. Crowell did the honors, scoring on a seven-yard run. Stanger’s kick pulled the Comets to within a touchdown at 21-14.

Halifax County got the ball back one more time before the game ended, with the Comets coming up shy as a result of the interception with 23 seconds left in the contest.

A missed scoring opportunity in the third quarter proved to be as costly as the missed scoring opportunity in the waning seconds of the game.

Trailing 21-7, the Comets started on the Bulldogs’ 35-yard line after a short Martinsville punt. After three plays and a Martinsville penalty, the Comets had a first down at the Bulldogs’ 10-yard line.

The Comets ran the ball four times, but came up a yard short of paydirt. Adams was stopped at the one-yard line when the Comets gambled on fourth down at the Bulldogs’ three-yard line with just under two and a half minutes left in the quarter.

It was on the Comets’ ensuing defensive series that a no call on what appeared an apparent safety for the Comets occurred.

Wojtecki was still upset over the controversial fumble call and the no call on the apparent safety Saturday morning.

“The (game) film showed it was not a fumble,” Wojtecki said.

“It also showed we had scored a safety. It’s clear the Martinsville runner was a good yard in the end zone when he was tackled. We’re going to send the film to the officials for them to look at.”