It is a difficult situation when a young football team like the Halifax County High School football team loses almost two weeks of practice time due to COVID-19 situations and the weather.
The team’s youth and the loss of valuable practice time showed in Saturday’s home season-opener against Bassett High School.
Halifax County High School held its own for two and a half quarters before mistakes and turnovers ultimately took their toll in a 30-6 loss to the Bengals.
“The effort was solid at times,” said Comets Head Coach Rob Senseney.
“We did a lot of good things. Obviously, there are things we need to clean up. We’re young. We’ve got freshmen and sophomores playing. A lot of those kids would be on JV. We’re just a young group. Mistakes at this point compound themselves because of our lack of experience and lack of practice.”
The Bengals scored 20 of their 30 points over the last four minutes of the game to escape from what had been a close, competitive contest for just over three quarters. Bassett High School, leading 10-6, took advantage of an ill-timed Comets penalty to keep a drive alive. Shortly after that Bengals quarterback Ja’Ricous Hairston scored on a 17-yard run with 3:49 left in the game to cap the five-play, 60-yard scoring drive.
With the Bengals leading 17-6, Hairston scored on a 6-yard run that followed teammate Sterling Jamison’s return of an intercepted pass down to the Comets’ 6-yard line. Hairston’s second touchdown of the contest made the score 24-6 with one minute left in the game.
On the final play of the game, the Bengals’ Elijah Stokes stopped a potential Comets score by intercepting a pass and returning it 98 yards for a touchdown to make the final 30-6 count.
At the end of the afternoon the Comets had turned the ball over four times and had been penalized 11 times for 89 yards.
“It was too many mistakes, too many things that went wrong,” Senseney pointed out.
“That’s just first game, no scrimmage, and playing a team that has already played a game.”
Halifax County High School’s defensive unit put up a good fight throughout the contest but found itself in tough positions at times.
“The defensive kids did great,” Senseney remarked.
“We just kept them on the field too long.”
The Bengals’ Simeon Walker-Muse broke a scoreless deadlock with a 1-yard run for a touchdown with 1:22 left in the first half to cap an 11-play, 45-yard scoring drive. Kicker Freddi Lopez added the extra point to put Bassett High School up 7-0.
Halifax County High School took advantage of a Bassett High School miscue on a punt attempt, taking over the ball at the Bengals’ 27-yard line. Mykyler Smalls scored on the next play to make it a one-point game with 8:19 left in the third quarter. The Comets’ extra point attempt failed leaving the score 7-6.
It was all Bassett High School after that.
The Comets turned the ball over on a fumble on their third possession of the second half, and the Bengals took advantage of the opportunity. Lopez connected for a field goal with 4:23 left in the third quarter to give the Bengals a 10-6 lead. Bassett High School followed by scoring 20 points over the final 3:49 of the game to seal the win.
Halifax County High School had two potential scoring opportunities in the second quarter but was unable to capitalize.
The Comets took over the ball at the Bengals’ 20-yard line after the Bengals muffed a snap on a punt attempt but turned the ball over on downs. They reached the Bengals’ 20-yard line during their next possession only to see that drive derailed by an ill-timed penalty.
On the Comets’ last possession of the game, quarterback Kameron Roberts hit Christian Midkiff on a 51-yard pass play that was the Comets’ longest play of the game. The big play put the ball at the Bengals’ 7-yard line, but Bassett High School intercepted a pass by Roberts on the next play and returned it for a touchdown as time ran off of the game clock.
Saturday’s win evened Bassett High School’s record at 1-1 and reversed the disappointment of the Bengals’ opening-game loss to Carroll County High School a week earlier.
“The first game we had six turnovers, five fumbles and an interception,” noted Bassett High School Head Coach Brandon Johnson.
“We kept the turnover slate clean today, and that’s the difference in the ballgames for us. If we can take care of the football and play field position, we will be alright this year.”