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Franklin overpowers Comets 37-19 in Senior Night loss / November 02, 2018

Three costly early turnovers gave visiting Franklin County too much of an advantage on Comet Senior night, and the Eagles plowed to a 37-19 Piedmont District varsity football win over Halifax County High School Monday.

The Comets dropped to 5-4, but remain in the Class 5D regional playoff hunt.

Halifax has one game remaining on the regular season, at GW-Danville Friday. archrival GW-Danville tomorrow.

It appears Halifax has all but clinched a playoff berth. Halifax is tied with PH-Roanoke with a playoff rating of 24.222, according to the latest updated VHSL top 20 rankings in Class 5D. Massaponax (31.4) and North Stafford (29.250) lead the pack, followed by Mountain View, Brooke Point, Harrisonburg, with PH-Roanoke and Halifax deadlocked in the sixth spot.

Albemarle owns a 4-5 record and the Pats are the next team up with a 23.55 rating. The top eight teams go to the regionals.

Halifax will gain valuable playoff points Friday against GW, regardless of the outcome. The final top eight in Class 5D won’t be released until next week, but it seems very unlikely at this point that Halifax will miss the playoffs.

The Comets struggled to gain traction against Franklin, which had been idle for two weeks after a big win over GW-Danville.

The Comets saw a four-game win streak snapped. Halifax is 4-2 in the Piedmont District. Franklin improved to 5-4, 3-1.

Halifax proved to be competitive in the second half, after three costly turnovers set the stage for a 17-0 Eagle advantage.

Coach Grayson Throckmorton said, “We didn’t play well. When you don’t play well, good things don’t happen.”

Throckmorton said the Comets “were prepared as best we could with the two practices we had and the limited number of folks we had there on a Friday and a Saturday.”

Halifax started reasonably well, powering overland to the Eagle 12. On third-and-one, however, the Comets fumbled in the red zone and FCHS recovered the ball.

Franklin County converted a 66-yard scoring pass from Shane Grindstaff to Kormah Padgett for the first score. Halifax trailed 7-0 at the 5:58 mark. FCHS then got an interception on an underthrown ball. That set up a second Eagle score, on a deep 68-yard post pattern from S. Grindstaff to Garrett Garman. Halifax trailed, 14-0, with 5:30 left.

Halifax then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and that led to a 37-yard field goal by the Eagles’ very talented place-kicker, Erick Casteneda, with 3:49 left.

The Comets later had a punt blocked and that set up another Eagle score. Halifax trailed 23-0 after a ten-yard scoring run with 2:39 left. The kick failed, but Franklin led 23-0.

Otis Slayton ripped through an open seam on a 91-yard kickoff return to get Halifax on the board. But Franklin answered, scoring on a five-yard pass from Grindstaff to Padgett. Franklin led, 30-6, at the half.

Halifax proved to be a stronger football team in the second half, scoring on two of four possessions after intermission.

But Franklin had an 11-yard scoring run by Jayron Smith at the 5:53 mark.

The Comets got a seven-yard scoring run from Herbert Brooks with 5:53 left in the third.

Brooks later tacked on a three-yard scoring run in the final period with 4:40 left in the contest.

Halifax got outgained 208-112 on the ground, while the Eagles had a major edge in the passing game. Grindstaff finished 8-for-13 passing with 218 yards and no interceptions, and three touchdown passes.

Halifax quarterback Ryan Moore went zero-for-eight with one pass picked off.

The key metric was Halifax loss in the turnover battle, with three fumbles and one interception.

Throckmorton said the Eagles are a tough, well-coached football team.

“Turnovers put us in bad spots. It’s tough to overcome that when that happens,” said the Comet coach.

Throckmorton also said Franklin just out-physicalled Halifax up front. Halifax made adjustments to stop the power running game, but the Eagles rolled on.

Halifax also could not contain the Franklin play-action passing attack.

Frankin and Comets are not expected to play football again in the future, at least anytime soon. Franklin is bound for the Blue Ridge District next year, while the Comets will continue to play in the Piedmont.

Halifax has a difficult conclusion to the week, trying to contain GW-Danville in the regular season finale tomorrow night in the River City.

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