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Freshmen Gridders Clinch Winning Season

Alonzo Bennett scored on two long touchdown runs and Galantre Thaxton added a third on a touchdown pass from Tavaris Hamlett, as the Comets’ ninth-grade football team slipped past the Randolph-Henry jayvees 20-12 Monday night. Halifax scored on a seven-play drive to open the game, with Thaxton leaping to snare a 17-yard touchdown pass from Hamlett to make it 6-0.

It was still 6-0 with two minutes left in the half after the Comets’ defense stopped Randolph-Henry on downs at the Halifax 23-yard line, and Halifax took only four plays to score.

Bennett had runs of 38 yards and 33 yards on the drive, the final 33 yards resulting in the touchdown with 19 seconds left in the half.

The Comets tacked on the 2-point conversion with a pass from Hamlett to Tyler Dunn to make it 14-0 at halftime.

The teams exchanged fumbles to start the third quarter and the Halifax defense stopped Randolph-Henry on a fourth and two play at the Comets’ 25-yard line, but the Statesmen got back into the game on their next possession.

Starting at its 48-yard line following a Comets’ punt, the Statesmen scored on a 50-yard touchdown pass on a fourth and eight play to make it 14-6, but the Comets stuffed the conversion run.

The Comets’ defense made its biggest stand of the game after Randolph-Henry recovered a fumble near midfield and drove to a first and goal at the Halifax 5-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter.

Comet’s defensive lineman Chris Baisch recovered his second fumble of the game to stop that drive at the Halifax County 18-yard line, and the Comets responded with a four-play drive for what proved to be the winning touchdown.

Three straight runs by Hamlett yielded a first down, and on the next play Bennett broke free down the right sideline for a 56-yard touchdown run to make it 20-6 with 5:24 remaining.

The Statesmen took all but 10 seconds of the game to score its last points, using 14 plays to march 66 yards, the drive culminating with a halfback pass on third and eight from the Comets 8-yard line.

Halifax recovered the onsides kick and ran out the clock to seal the win.

“The kids continue to play hard and with emotion, they just need to get used to competing to win and doing the right things,” said Comets coach Kenneth Day after the game.

“You really can’t ask for anything else, and a winning season is a big deal for this program.”

“We’re 5-2 now with one game left, at Heritage.”