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‘Forgotten man’ spurs Comets’ win

Franklin County High School and every other opponent on the Halifax County High School football schedule knows about the weapon the Comets have in senior running back Alonzo Bennett.

Bennett had rushed for well over 800 yards and had scored nine rushing touchdowns entering the Comets’ Western Valley District opener against the Eagles here Friday night at Tuck Dillard Stadium.

Naturally, Bennett would be the likely target of the Eagles’ defense – and he was. For Comets quarterback Tyler Stephens, that turned out to be a good thing.

The Comets’ junior quarterback helped spur a second-half rally in which the Comets scored 22 unanswered points to overcome a 14-point halftime deficit and scored a two-point conversion in the second overtime period to give the Comets a 37-36 win in their Western Valley District opener.

Stephens ran for 124 yards that included touchdown runs of 60 yards, 31 yards and six yards and the game-winning two-point conversion. He also passed for 84 yards that included a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

It was Stephens’ best night of the season.

“Everybody tried to key on Alonzo,” Stephens pointed out.

“Coming into the game, Alonzo had already rushed for over 800 yards. They tried to stop him, but I guess they didn’t know about me. Things just opened up for me.”

Halifax County High School Head Coach Michael Roark and Stephens’ teammates thought enough of his performance that they gave Stephens the team’s game ball.

“It was the best game he’s had so far, by far,” Roark pointed out.

Franklin County High School managed to contain both Bennett and Stephens in the first half but couldn’t make it stick the final two quarters.

“We didn’t do well enough in the second half, though,” said Eagles Head Coach Chris Jones.

“He (Stephens) started with that long run up the middle on us. We didn’t make enough coaching adjustments to get the play stopped that we needed to stop.”

Roark said Stephens was a little “down” at halftime after having thrown an interception in the first half that killed a possible scoring opportunity for the Comets.

“I asked him at halftime when he struck out in baseball did he let that bother him?” Roark said.

“He said ‘no.’ Okay. No big deal. It’s one pick. I know what happened. He got in a little bit of a hurry (with the throw). He’s still learning.”

By the end of the night, Stephens had more than overcome that miscue.

As for Bennett, whose 87 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown was one of his lower totals for the season, he didn’t mind that the spotlight turned to Stephens.

“When they (Franklin County) started to key on me, I figured it would open up a lot of stuff,” Bennett pointed out.

“I told Coach (Roark) to feed Tyler the ball because they’re keying on me.”

The result, the Comets 37-36 win, gave the team a signature win to hang the season on.

“This is sweet,” said Comets senior defensive lineman Johnny Thaxton.

“It means so much to this town, to this team. This is my senior year. I’m glad we did it because it hadn’t been done in several years. Losing to Magna Vista on homecoming was disappointing, but we made up for it tonight.”