- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Doug Ford
James Smith Jr. ran for three touchdowns and a two-point conversion, Jamal Brandon and Tylik Powell added touchdown runs, and the Halifax County Middle School football seventh-graders rallied from an 18-6 halftime deficit to beat Ben Franklin Middle School 32-24 Monday in Rocky Mount.
Halifax took the early lead when Smith scored after a three-play drive, but Ben Franklin responded with a long touchdown drive to tie the score.
Ben Franklin intercepted Smith and scored on its ensuing possession to lead 12-6 at halftime, and the Eagles scored early in the third quarter on a forced fumble for an 18-6 lead.
The Lions rallied with two scores, the first coming on a 45-yard run by Brandon, and the second coming after Lions linebacker Ramon Coleman forced a fumble.
Powell scored from five yards out and Smith added the conversion run to give Halifax a 20-18 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Ben Franklin scored for the final time to lead 24-20, but Halifax answered with a Smith touchdown run and Powell recovered an onsides kick, as the Lions kept possession of the ball.
On a fourth and 17 at the Ben Franklin 45-yard line, Smith reversed direction and broke several tackles on the way to the clinching touchdown with 26 seconds left.
The Lions turned the ball over twice on interceptions in the first half, and they also had a touchdown and 30-yard gain nullified by penalties in the first two quarters, but they stepped up their level of play in the second half, according to coach Frank Shealy.
“This was a good character building game for the younger players,” said Shealy.
“They had to fight adversity with all the turnovers, penalties and not playing well in the first half, but the second half was a complete turnaround.
“We still have a lot to learn, but this kind of game really shows you something about your players.”