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Comets fall in opener to Jefferson Forest
SoVaNow.com / August 29, 2014
A quick, athletic Jefferson Forest squad proved too potent offensively for the Halifax County High School varsity football squad Friday night, speeding past the Comets, 50-30, in South Boston.
Jefferson Forest, part of the Seminole district, outgained the Comets, won the turnover battle, and pounded HCHS on the ground. The Cavaliers also had success stretching the field with the vertical passing game.
But the Comets had some positive points in this offensive free-for-all.
Sophomore quarterback James Smith threw for 269 yards, with one interception. Smith threw for three scores and ran for another. He was 16-for-26.
Kelonte Gutrich had four catches for 71 yards and two scores, and William Brooks had one touchdown catch for 67 yards.
Jarvis Owens had four catches for 51 yards, and tight end R.J. Oliver had three catches for 44 yards. Freshman Jamal Brandon had one catch for 25 yards.
Hailfax did not have as much luck rushing, grinding for 134 yards on 37 attempts. Senior Roland Brandon had nine carries for 44 yards, with one touchdown. Freshman Jamal Brandon had seven rushes for 42 yards. Smith ran 16 times for 30 yards, often scrambling away from trouble. Tyrus Pannell ran twice for 11 yards.
Jefferson Forest bolted to a 23-6 lead with 11:54 remaining in the second quarter and extended the margin to 30-6 with 5:39 left before halftime.
Bob Christmas is in his second stint at JF. In his earlier tenure, he led the Cavaliers to a pair of state titles and a state runner-up effort.
The Cavaliers led, 37-12, at halftime, and it appeared the Comets might fold.
But Halifax coach, Kenneth Day, is seeking to instill a never-quit attitude. The Comets roared back in the third period.
Halifax made a terrific play on the second half kickoff, recovering the kick after the ball bounced around on the Jefferson Forest return unit.
Halifax scored on a 10-yard Brandon run around end and the Comets had pulled within 37-18 with 10:53 left in the third.
Halifax then forced a turnover with 10:22 left in the third, eventually setting up an acrobatic five-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Gutrich with 8:41 left in the third period.
Keshawn Johnson recovered the fumble that eventually set up the score.
Halifax trailed, 37-24, at that point, and it appeared the Comets might rally.
But the Cavaliers made some adjustments and shook off their mistakes, eventually building a 43-24 lead at the end of the third period.
Halifax did not quit.
Jefferson Forest outrushed the Comets, 310-134.
Halifax, sparked by Smith and a versatile crop of Comet targets, outgained the Cavaliers in the passing game, 269-153.
Crews had a kickoff return near the end of the third, setting up a Comet first-and-ten situation on the Cavalier 30. But Smith threw a pick with 11:52 remaining, ending the drive.
Ayers capped the scoring with a four-yard plunge with 8:05 left for the final score.
The Cavaliers outgained the Comets 464-403 in total yards.
For Jefferson Forest, Cameron-Miller Trent had 17 carries for 118 yards, while Navy Jones had 11 carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Taylor Brown had a one-yard scoring run and quarterback Ayers added a four-yard scoring run.
Ayers went five-for-five passing for two touchdowns.
Smith, playing his first varsity game, connected on a 67-yard scoring strike to Brooks and Halifax trailed, 8-6 early.
The Comets later fell into a deeper hole, but capitalized on some strong special teams play. Halifax battled back into contention in the third period, before JF finally slammed the door.
Brandon had some promising moments, and looked good for a player making his varsity debut as a freshman. Donte Crews also gave Jefferson Forest fits at times on kickoff returns.
Both coaches could point to mistakes from their teams.
Christmas said turnovers, including the muffed kickoff return, hurt the Cavaliers. But he also praised his JF team for resilience in battling back to seal the opener.
Jefferson Forest had success with its traps and mixed up its offense, going inside and outside too loosen up the Comets. They also ran the ball well, right at the Comets.
HCHS is on the road Friday, meeting E.C. Glass in City Stadium in Lynchburg.
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