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Missed opportunities

South Boston News
Rufus Jeffress sails into the William Fleming quarterback during the first half of Friday’s game. (David Conner II photo) / October 29, 2012

The Halifax County High School varsity football team will regret some missed opportunities this season.

One winnable game that clearly got away includes the Friday night disappointment at William Fleming. The previously winless Colonels made a dramatic final defensive stand and stymied the Comets, 18-17.

Fleming, celebrating on Senior Night, stopped the Comets on the Blues’ final drive of the night. Fleming, now 1-8, ran out the clock.

HCHS dropped to 3-6 overall, 1-2 in the Western Valley district. The regular season ends Friday night against GW-Danville in the River City. GW was on hand to scout the Comets, and the Silver Eagles have to be considered the favorites Friday night.

Alonzo Bennett, as usual, led the way for the Comets against Fleming. He had a 14-yard scoring run early and added a 66-yard rushing touchdown. Bennett had a remarkable effort against the Colonels, scampering for 226 yards on 21 carries, an average of 10.76 yards per carry. Bennett was virtually the whole rushing offense, as the Comets had 256 yards on 40 carries.

Quarterback Tyler Stephens finished four-for-13, with 46 yards passing.

Stephens had one ball picked off and did not throw a touchdown pass.

Tyler Dunn had two catches for 11 yards, and J.J. Crews also had two catches, for 35 yards.

Bennett now has 1,410 yards rushing on 172 carries, a sparkling 8.2 yards per attempt. He has 12 rushing touchdowns and has only two fumbles. Overall, HCHS has rushed for 2151 yards.

Stephens has been respectable at quarterback, as he now has 47 completions on 79 attempts, for 532 yards. He has four touchdowns and four interceptions. HCHS has 656 yards passing.

J.J. Crews leads the Comet receiving crew with 192 yards. Crews has ten catches with two touchdowns. Bennett has four catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Dunn leads the team in receptions with 20 and is second with overall receiving yardage, accumulating 157 yards.

Bennett is also the Comet scoring leader, with 84 points.

Bennett’s contributions weren’t enough.

Fleming snapped a nine-game losing skid, and the Colonels earned the first win on their state-of-the-art on-campus field.

HCHS became too one-dimensional on offense, as Fleming made the decisive defensive stand with a little more than a minute left to stop a HCHS comeback drive.

“We had a bad night trying to throw, so we became one dimensional. Once we became one dimensional, they put nine, ten guys in the box,” Comet coach Mike Roark said.

Sacks hurt the Comets, and Fleming also pressured the Comets into difficult long-yardage situations at different times.

Roark expected a tough battle, as Fleming circled the Comet game on their calendars. The Comets did not see any surprises.

“They executed. We didn’t,” said Roark.

Halifax enjoyed decent field position for its opening drive of the night, starting on its 30.

Halifax recovered its own fumble to start the series, and then put together perhaps as good a drive as the Comets have had all season.

Bennett helped the Comets quickly move into Colonel territory. Crews had a terrific catch and made an effective spin move to put Halifax at the Fleming 26.

Eventually, Bennett capped the drive with a 14-yard run and HCHS added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead with 6:43 remaining in the first period.

HCHS might have overlooked Fleming, which has some athleticism.

Regardless, the Colonels sent an unmistakable early signal they would not go quietly. The Colonels answered with a 58-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyrell Adams to Khalil Bonds. Fleming was denied on the two-point conversion, but trailed, 8-6, with 4:10 left in the first period.

HCHS, bolstered by a personal foul roughing the passer penalty, moved forward on its next drive. The Comet drive stalled. Halifax also stopped Fleming, which tried a 25-yard field goal. The Fleming attempt came with 10:17 left before the half.

HCHS put together a promising drive, but Fleming’s Derrell Stone recovered a Comet fumble, stopping the thrust and giving the Colonels possession in the Comet red zone.

Adams capped the drive with a six-yard scoring run, as the Colonels led 12-8 with 5:38 remaining in the seciond period. The Comets denied the two-point conversion attempt.

Halifax started on its 24, with 5:32 remaining in the half. Nico Johnson thwarted the Comet drive, picking off Stephens after the junior quarterback scrambled to find a target.

That turnover set up a 16-yard touchdown pass from Adams to Bonds. The Colonels missed the extra-point attempt, but led 18-6, at halftime.

Fleming did a good job pressuring Stephens and recorded several sacks during the game. Fleming also seemed to have early momentum.

But the Comets managed to get back into contention.

The Comet defense came up with a well-timed fumble recovery with 8:15 left in the third, giving Halifax first and ten its 31. But the Comets could not capitalize, as the ensuing drive stalled.

HCHS forced a punt. Bennett exploded for a 66-yard touchdown jaunt up the middle, and suddenly, Halifax was almost there, trailing 18-14 with 4:22 left in the third. The two-point conversion was stopped.

The Comets did a good job containing Fleming, and pulled within one, 18-17, on a 26-yard field goal with 8:35 remaining.

The Comets seemed to have enough momentum after another defensive stop. HCHS had one final shot, and the Comets did a good job for a while, rolling into Fleming territory. Finally, the Comets were denied a critical first down on a fourth down conversion with about 1:12 left, with the Comets stopped on the Fleming 36.

Fleming held on and ran out the clock.

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