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Comets spoil Jefferson Forest homecoming

South Boston News
Kanya Caddle pulls down the reception to score the Comets’ first touchdown against Jefferson Forest Friday. / October 04, 2021

Halifax County High School varsity football kept its unbeaten streak alive Friday, coming from behind to spoil Jefferson Forest’s homecoming 49-32.

The Comets are 4-0, 1-0 Piedmont District going into this week’s game with district opponent Magna Vista.

Friday’s game was marked by an outstanding second half of football, after a first half that at times was a disjointed mess. Penalties, turnovers, two timeouts used for not the best reasons -— too few and too many players on the field — and a host of other small items plagued the varsity Comets.

“The first half was sloppy,” Coach Rob Senseney said. “To JF’s credit they played incredibly well.

“We kind of let them in the game a little bit. For them that was an opening to get revved up and going.”

Senseney said prior to the game that his team would have to be respect Jefferson Forest’s passing game and their ability to quickly put up points. That’s how the game played out.

“The first half they were kind of shellshocked that JF wasn’t backing down from us,” Senseney said. “I told them at halftime we weren’t doing anything we did in practice.

“It’s great to have the win but I told them there were two coaches tonight,” Senseney explained. “There was the practice coach that wasn’t real happy and there was the game coach that was happy. I was happy we won the game.”

Halifax kicked off, with the Cavaliers starting at their 39 yard line. The hosts would pick up a face mask call against the Comets on the first play of the game. JF got four first downs in the series and was soon facing second and 17.

The Comets’ Javeion Gooden came up with a huge sack, putting JF in a third and 32 situation. Daysun Wilson interrupted a JF pass attempt and the Comets took possession after the punt.

Halifax ran two plays to get the first down, then was looking at second and six at JF’s 48. But an interception that a Cavalier defender ran in for a touchdown put the Comets behind 6-0. This was how most of the first half went — Halifax would make major strides only to have something go wrong and kill the drive or allow the TD.

As the first quarter came to a close, Qualik Tucker made a nice defensive play to end a JF drive and keep the score at 6-0. Halifax would start the second quarter facing fourth and one at the 39 and turned the ball over on downs.

JF picked up another TD for the 12-0 score and almost punched another TD in with 1:03 left in the half. This is when the Comets started to turn the game around.

Atavion Mabbins returned the ball for a first and 10 at the 43. Quarterback Dakii Chandler then launched a 57-yard pass to Kanya Caddle for a touchdown. With Ella Morrison’s PAT kick clearing the uprights, Halifax narrowed the JF lead to 12-7.

Morrison kicked off and helped save the TD on the runback, getting the assist on the tackle. But the high powered passing game of Jefferson Forest would lead to one more TD as time ran out in the half for the 18-7 score at the break.

When Halifax returned to the field to start the third period they played with purpose. Jahmarri Chandler got a great runback on the opening kick for first and 10 at the 30.

D. Chandler quickly found Caddle on a leaping 70-yard catch for his second TD of the night. Morrison, who was once again perfect in the game, got the PAT for the 18-14 score.

“We’re throwing the ball pretty well,” Senseney said. “We’ve got a really good group of receivers out there.

“I like Dakii when he throws the ball 10 plus and I really like when he throws the ball 10 and 20 under because he really puts some zip on it and then he throws the big ball well.”

Forcing JF into a three and out, it wasn’t long before Caddle was pulling in his third long TD pass from Chandler, a 51 yard conversion. The series was kept alive by a pass interference call on a third and 10 play. The TD put Halifax out front, 21-18.

JF responded with a TD to take a 25-21 lead with a little over five minutes left in the quarter. Halifax followed with a punt but caused a JF fumble on the next series.

After Halifax took possession they would fumble it right back over to JF, but the hosts were not able to capitalize on the mistake. And once again the Comets answered.

Regaining possession, Halifax completed a third and 11 play. Mikyler Smalls capped off two nice rushes with a 21-yard TD run as the Comets retook a 28-25 lead.

On defense for the Comets, Zac Carter helped close out JF’s next drive. The Comets wouldn’t relinquish the lead.

Early in the fourth the Comets’ Atavion Mabbins hauled in a 34-yard TD pass. That strike came after some ground gains by Smalls.

“They (JF) made the decision that they were going to load up and stop the run,” Senseney said, referencing JF’s plan to load the box.

“The second half we were like, okay, we’re gonna have to get some guys out the box and throw the football.”

After a Joshua Miller interception the Comets were once again in business. D. Chandler punched his own number on a QB keeper for a 23-yard TD and a 42-25 Comet lead.

JF got its final touchdown with 4:15 left in the game. But Halifax again responded, with Wyatt Nelson hauling in a 29-yard TD reception with 2:43 left for the 49-32 score.

Halifax shut down JF’s next possession and ran the clock out on offense to secure the victory.

The Comets travel to Magna Vista High School on Friday as the team gets back on its district schedule. Game time is 7 p.m.

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