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Oh, So Close!


A routine play can sometimes turn into an unexpected miscue. That’s exactly what happened to the Halifax County High School Blue Comets in Friday night’s game against archrival GW in Danville.

A high snap on an extra-point attempt that resulted in Comets quarterback Dale Trent being sacked well behind the line of scrimmage with just under two minutes left in the game left the Comets with a disappointing 35-34 loss in their Western Valley District opener.

“This very tough,” Trent said after the game.

“Losing by one point isn’t fun. But, we’ll take this and go back out (onto the practice field) Monday and get to work preparing for Franklin County.”

Comets head coach Stan Hodgin did not dwell on the play.

“We had an unfortunate series of events,” Hodgin remarked.

“That’s all I’ve got to say about the extra point.”

The missed extra point was the only blemish on what was otherwise a stellar performance by the Comets. Halifax County rebounded from an early 14-0 deficit to take a one-point 28-27 lead with 3:02 left in the third quarter and, ultimately, gave themselves a shot at a tie and a possible win with 1:59 left in the game.

“I think it just demonstrates the character of this group of young men and the way they go about things,” Hodgin said.

“I can’t praise our guys enough on the effort and the competitiveness they showed and the character and class that they played with. I am extremely proud to be a part of this group.”

In a departure from previous games, the Comets showed more of a ground game. Domonic Henderson ran for 68 yards, all in the first half, including a 61-yard run for a touchdown late in the first quarter that ignited the Comets’ rally from their 14-0 first-quarter deficit. Thomas Logan ran the ball 12 times for 35 yards. In all, the Comets ran for 100 yards on the night.

“It was combination of two things,” Hodgin said.

“One, we had a little extra practice time (with the bye week) and, two, we’ve gotten a lot more healthy in our offensive line. Those guys had gotten quite beaten up the first five or six weeks of the season. We’ve got some capable running backs. It was just a combination of more time and a more healthy offensive line.”

Hodgin said he would have gone to the ground game even more in the second half had Henderson not been injured.

“Domonic didn’t play much in the second half because of a nagging injury,” the Comets coach said. “If he had stayed healthy we would have tried to run the ball even more.”

After Henderson scored, the Comets tied the game up on an 8-yard throw from Trent to Kendall Adams and an extra-point kick from Jordan Keck with 5:43 left in the first half.

The second half was a literal track meet between the two teams with GW breaking the halftime deadlock with a 1-yard run by Jackson early in the third quarter. From that point, on, the two teams matched each other’s scores, the difference-maker being the missed extra point by the Comets.

It was the kind of contest that GW head coach Dan Newell feared the most.

“We felt if we got into that kind of track meet we were going to be in real trouble,” Newell said.

“I said to the coaching staff right before we walked out the door that we have to do everything we can to avoid a track meet. We cannot go back and forth because we’re going to make too many mistakes, and sooner or later they’re going to get ahead of us. That’s the kind of game we couldn’t afford to play. We’re fortunate to win this ballgame.”

Along the way, the Comets’ defense got the job done in several crucial situations. Among the big plays was an interception in the first quarter by Shaquan Bailey that stopped a GW drive inside the Comets’ 20-yard line.

The Comets held GW on a fourth-down play at the Comets’ 33-yard line late in the second quarter to stave off another GW drive. Halifax County’s defense also stopped GW at the Comets’ 13-yard line and forced GW to attempt field goal on the final play of the first half that missed its mark.

The Comets also blocked a GW extra-point kick in the second half and stymied GW on three third down-and-short situations in the second half.

“I thought our defensive players played an outstanding football game,” Hodgin said. “I’m not so sure that this wasn’t our best defensive performance of the year. If you ask them (the players), there are some plays that weren’t made that they think they should have made. We did make big stops at big times. We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end.”