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Miscues foil Comets in loss to Magna Vista

It was a another chapter in what has become a too-familiar story.

Halifax County High School held its own in Friday night’s game against Magna Vista High School in Ridgeway, only to shoot itself in the foot with mistakes.

Turning a pair of Comets turnovers into touchdowns, Magna Vista High School rolled up a 42-21 win to keep its undefeated streak and its top-five ranking in the state in the Associated Press Group AA prep poll intact.

“Obviously, there is a reason they’re ranked highly in the state,” said Comets Head Coach Dave Wojtecki.

“They don’t make those mistakes that we do, and they capitalize on the ones the other team makes.”

Halifax County High School had its best offensive night of the season with 465 yards of total offense, 16 yards more than the Warriors. But the Comets could not overcome their mistakes.

The first occurred with the game tied at 7-7 and the Comets knocking on the door for a potential score with the ball at the Warriors’ 2-yard line, Comets quarterback Ford Bradshaw coughed up the football when he was nailed by Magna Vista’s Marque Carter. The Warriors’ DeShaun Penn scooped up the loose ball at the 9-yard line and raced to the other end for a touchdown that resulted in a 14-7 lead for the Warriors with 5:48 left in the first half.

Trailing in the second half 21-7, the Comets were victimized again when the Warriors’ Jalen Hairston picked off a pass by Bradshaw and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown with 9:17 left in the third quarter to put Magna Vista High School up 35-7.

“We kill ourselves with offensive mistakes,” Wojtecki pointed out.

“Mistakes happen and we have trouble overcoming those things. But, when we make mistakes they kill us. They’re touchdowns. They’re not a mistake and maybe the other team gets five yards off of it. When we make a mistake, it’s for six (points).”

The second-quarter fumble came on the 13th play of a drive that started at the Comets’ 25-yard line. Halifax County came up empty on another trip into the red zone later in the second quarter when Kyle Lacks was unable to connect on a 32-yard field goal attempt with 10 seconds left in the first half.

Halifax County also came up empty on a third trip into the red zone when it was unable to convert a first down on a fourth-down play with the ball at the Warriors’ 8-yard line. That drive was a 16-play march that had begun at the Comets’ 42-yard line.

“We’ve got to do a better job of executing offensively, especially in the red zone,” Wojtecki pointed out.

“I made some bad calls in the red zone that hurt us a little bit and we’re going to go back to work this week on our red-zone offense. They (Magna Vista) didn’t stop us. We put together a 16-play drive and stalled in the red zone. We put together another 13-play drive that stalled in the red zone. We moved the ball all night.”

The Comets showed their offensive prowess early when Bradshaw hit Cody Palmer with a pass that turned into a 52-yard play for a touchdown that gave the Comets a 7-0 lead after their second possession of the game.

Trailing 35-7 in the second half, the Comets’ Trey Roberts broke free for a 67-yard touchdown run with 6:15 left in the third quarter. Later, with the game out of reach, Alonzo Bennett scored on a 2-yard run with 2:06 left in the game to give the Comets their third and final score of the contest.

Bennett and Roberts finished the game with 179 yards and 174 yards respectively.

Magna Vista High School’s standout quarterback Harvey Taylor had another big game, running for 188 yards and passing for 115 yards. But, it wasn’t all easy to come by as the Comets tackled Taylor for either no gain or negative yardage six times.

“They (Halifax County) loaded the box like I didn’t think they would,” Taylor said, “but we worked around it.”