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Comets fall to Jefferson Forest 42-19 in opener

It wasn’t the kind of opening night new Halifax County High School Head Coach Michael Roark or junior quarterback Richard Jacobs envisioned.

The Comets led Jefferson Forest High School by two touchdowns with just under four and a half minutes left in the first half of Friday night’s home opener at Tuck Dillard Stadium, only to see their effort to end a five-year opening night drought fall apart.

Scoring five unanswered touchdowns, Jefferson Forest High School rallied to take the lead and ran away to a 42-19 win.

The loss spoiled the debut of new Comets Head Coach Michael Roark, who had badly wanted a win for his team.

“I’m just sorry for the kids,” Roark said quietly.

“We really wanted the seniors to open with a win.”

The loss was equally, perhaps more disappointing for Jacobs. Jacobs suffered a season-ending hip injury in last year’s season opener against Jefferson Forest High School in Forest and was looking to rebound against the Cavaliers in his first start as the Comets’ quarterback.

“It makes me real sad,” Jacobs remarked.

“It’s tough because this is the team that I suffered the injury against last year and couldn’t play the rest of the season. I really wanted to win this game.”

The Comets appeared to be in a good situation early in the game with senior running back Alonzo Bennett providing a big offensive spark. Bennett scored all three first-half Comets touchdowns, the first on a 63-yard run on the second play of the game, the second on a 52-yard run in the second quarter and the third on a 73-yard pass from Jacobs on an inside screen pass with 4:20 left in the first half.

Bennett’s third touchdown was his last play of the night as he exited the game with a suspected concussion. When he left the game, Bennett had run for 123 yards and one touchdown on six carries and had scored on a 73-yard play, accounting for 196 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.

After Bennett left the game with just over four minutes left in the first half, the Comets managed only 92 yards of offense the rest of the way.

“We’re finding out now that Alonzo is the heart of this offense, the heart of this team,” Roark pointed out. 

“It (losing Bennett) was a big blow because he is a big part of our offense,” Jacobs noted. He makes it complete.”

Jefferson Forest took the lead at 21-19 with an eight-yard run by Dominique Royal to cap its opening possession of the second half. The Cavaliers scored again on their third possession of the second half with a 5-yard run by Michael Foster with 3:32 left in the third quarter to take a 28-19 lead at the end of the third quarter.

A pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter sealed the win for the Cavaliers.

It was a long night for the Comets, who had two players, Bennett and Tecquin Showers-Hogue, have their night end early due to injuries. A handful of other players had issues with cramps, forcing Roark and his coaching staff to go deep into the bench.

“We got banged up a little bit,” Roark said.

“That was a part (of the game) we didn’t handle well. We started dropping so badly, we were down to “threes” (third-string players) in a couple of positions. That hurt us.”

A big factor, Roark said, was that the team did not handle adversity well.

“Remember how I was saying (through the pre-season) that adversity is a huge part of this game?” Roark queried.

“Tonight we didn’t fight through it. They (Jefferson Forest) drove it down the field on the first series (of the second half) and scored and that kind of turned the lights off. I’ve told them (the players) there will be some times when some bad things are going to happen and you have to stand up and make the next play. We’ve got to teach them how to keep fighting when we’re down.”

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