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Comets break into win column with 26-25 win over Person High

Kyle Lacks may have been the smallest player dressed in a Halifax County High School football uniform Friday night, but he was a big man in the eyes of his teammates. Playing in his first varsity football game, the Comets sophomore nailed a crucial extra-point kick after a game-tying 9-yard touchdown run by teammate Trey Roberts to give the Comets a 26-25 overtime win over neighboring border rival Person (N.C.) High School here at Tuck Dillard Stadium.

Roberts’ game-tying dash in the overtime period was his third touchdown of the night. Halifax County High School’s other touchdown in the game came on a 3-yard pass from quarterback Ford Bradshaw to Coby Markham with just over 10 minutes left in regulation.

“I was pretty nervous,” Lacks admitted.

“But, if you just focus on the ball, you can do whatever you want.”

Halifax County High School Head Coach Dave Wojtecki said the woes of his team’s kicking game earlier in the night led him to turn to Lacks.

“We have a competition for kicking squad every week,” Wojtecki explained.

“Our starting kicker, Harrison Turnbull, won it this week. He missed one (extra point) during the game, so I tried Tyler Garner. He missed a field goal, so I put Kyle in. I know Kyle is usually pretty consistent. The others missed, so I decided to put him in and let him try it. It was a good decision.”

Friday night’s win was the first victory of the season for the Comets, who improved their record to 1-2 on the season. This marks the second year in a row that the Comets have pulled off a close win over the Rockets, whose record dropped to 0-4 on the season with the loss.

“Any win is sweet, especially the way things have gone for us the past couple of years,” Wojtecki said.

“But, to beat Roxboro is a great feeling. There are two games people here talk about – Person and GW. The kids from the two schools go to church together. They talk to each other. It’s huge for the kids and gives us a little bit of bragging rights for another year.”

While the Comets pulled off their first win of the season, it was sometimes a frustrating exercise during the see-saw battle.

Halifax County High School gave up three turnovers in the form of pass interceptions. The Comets’ offensive unit failed to convert on fourth-down plays on three out of four tries. In addition, the Comets gave up several long kick returns, including an 84-yard return that netted the Rockets’ Marquist Claiborne a touchdown and gave the Rockets a 16-13 lead with 9:53 left in regulation.

Those pitfalls put the Comets’ defensive unit in some tough situations, but the Comets were able to make some big stops at critical times.

The biggest came after Person High School’s Joseph Downey returned a kickoff deep into Comets territory with about five and a half minutes left in regulation. The return followed Roberts’ second touchdown of the game, a score that gave the Comets a 19-16 lead with 5:32 left in regulation.

The Rockets converted a fourth-down play to gain a first down at the Comets’ 20-yard line and marched to the Comets’ 4-yard line. Halifax County stopped the Rockets’ Thurman Clayton for a 4-yard loss back to the 8-yard line on a third-down play, forcing the Rockets to settle for a game-tying 25-yard field goal by George Alonzo with 37.3 seconds left in regulation instead of getting a possible game-winning touchdown.

Another big second-half defensive play came when Mike Morris recovered a Rockets fumble at the Comets’ 2-yard line with about six minutes left in the third quarter to stop what appeared to be a certain scoring opportunity for the Rockets.

“The defense stepped up every single series,” Wojtecki pointed out.

“We put them (the players on the defensive unit) in a couple of bad situations offensively early, and they rose to the occasion. They bent a little bit, but they always stood their ground. They bow their necks and do a great job.”