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Comets win shootout with Martinsville

South Boston News
The Comets special teams contributed a blocked kick against Martinsville early in Friday’s win. (David Conner / October 09, 2017
Halifax County High School football has doubled its win total from a year ago - at least a .500 finish seems very likely - and the Comets can celebrate a rally by the program in Grayson Throckmorton’s first season.

Halifax also learned more about how to win on a night after adversity struck, outscoring Martinsville 45-40 Friday night before the start of a three-game road swing.

Franklin County is next, in Rocky Mount. The Comets have not won there since 1991, the year Halifax crushed the opposition en route to the AAA state title.

Halifax combined a pulverizing, absolutely driven ground game and a hungry defense, with the ability to repel the challenges presented a gutsy Martinsville club that battled to the final horn. There were also some bizarre moments, including a Bulldog touchdown on a short punt by Halifax that actually featured a backwards bounce.

Halifax, overcoming some sloppy football, is 4-2, 2-0 Piedmont District.

Martinsville dropped to 2-4.

Halifax enjoyed better focus in the second half, outscoring the Dogs, 20-7.

Halifax had a team effort on defense, and some performers had particularly strong games, including Camron Carden and Amir Spencer.

The Comets had a touchdown nullified by penalty on the opening drive of the second half. But the Comets still overcame that mistake and forged a tie on a two-yard slant run by Brandon and a two-point conversion from the determined senior back.

It was 33-33, with 7:10 left in third. From there, Halifax generally outplayed the Bulldogs, especially with a strong 12-0 fourth quarter kick.

Martinsville rallied to take its final lead of the night on a 23-yard touchdown pass with 4:26 left in the third. The kick was good, and the Bulldogs held a 40-33 advantage.

Halifax fumbled for the fourth time, with 4:09 left in the third.

But Kenneth Davis had a pass breakup and the Dogs could not capitalize on the Comet mistake.

Finally, Halifax found enough consistency to get past the Bulldogs.

Halifax capitalized on a partially blocked punt on Martinsville’s first possession of the final period and the Comets started at the Bulldog 32.

Brandon soon blasted for 16 yards on a scoring play with 9:40 left.

The kick failed, and Halifax still trailed, 40-39.

Halifax defensive back Darrius Bowman got a critical pickoff on the next Bulldog drive, giving the Comets possession with 8:12 left. Halifax also had superb field position at the Bulldog 41.

Brooks eventually led the charge, scoring from the two to lift Halifax to a 45-40 advantage with 5:39 left.

Brandon was stopped on the two-point conversion.

Martinsville had one last gasp, but solid Comet defense forced the Bulldogs to surrender possession at the 1:41 mark. Halifax ran out the clock and the Comets celebrated their second win in a row.

The teams exploded out of the gate early with big plays, including a flurry of activity near the end of the first period.

Martinsville struck first, blasting some 79 yards on an express lane-style kickoff return for a touchdown with 11:48 left in the quarter. The PAT was blocked.

Brandon then scampered 16 yards on a touchdown run after a sustained Comet drive. Ben Harris connected on the PAT and Halifax led, 7-6, with 8:55 remaining in the first.

Ty Cole recovered a Martinsville fumble on the ensuing kickoff, giving Halifax excellent field position at the Bulldog 11. Moore slashed through the defense from the two. Halifax led, 13-6 with 7:26 left in the period. Davis was stopped after a low snap on the PAT.

Halifax suffered fumbleitis much of the night and bobbled the first of four lost turnovers on its next drive. But the Comet defense held the Bulldogs.

Martinsville recovered another Comet fumble with 1:30 left in the first, and this time, Martinsville took advantage of this mistake. The Bulldogs burned the Comets with a 45-yard scoring pass and edged within one, 13-12, with 1:17 left in the first quarter. The conversion went wide left.

The Bulldogs took their only lead of the night at the 10:23 mark in the second quarter. With Halifax stalled, Moore punted and lofted a very short kick that caromed backwards. That’s still a live ball and an attentive Bulldog scooped the ball up inside the Comet 40 for a score. The Bulldogs led, and added a two-point conversion for a 20-13 advantage.

With the football action changing over to a fast and furious video game, Brandon added a two-yard scoring run with 7:54 left before the half. The kick was blocked.

Martinsville struck again to lead 26-19 with 5:47 left on a two-yard misdirection style run. The PAT failed.

Brandon ripped off an excellent punt return, advancing the ball to the Bulldog 45. Brandon then exploded through an open hole on a 42-yard jaunt, and HCHS led 26-25, with 3:27 left before the half. Brandon was denied on the two-point conversion.

But Martinsville responded with a 25-yard touchdown pass with 6.2 seconds left before intermission, giving the visitors a 33-25 lead heading into the break.

CELEBRITY COIN FLIP: Former NFL regular Tyrone Davis, who played one year of varsity football here, performed the coin flip before kickoff.

Davis is a local member of the Hall of Fame and enjoyed a record-setting career at Virginia. Halifax won the flip and deferred to the second half. .

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