By HARRISON HAMLET
(SOUTH BOSTON, Va.) – It is becoming a theme for Bassett’s football team this year to go into halftime trailing, but still come away with a win.
Although head coach Brandon Johnson said that the Bengals never felt out of the game on Friday against Halifax County, Bassett was unable to pull the same trick in Week Six, falling 25-15 in South Boston.
“Friday night was really a team effort,” Johnson said of the game. “The mood was never like we were out of the game. We were down 25-7 at one point, but we were still playing hard. We gave ourselves a chance with some time left on the clock and just couldn’t pull out the win this time.”
Freshman quarterback Jaricous Hairston continued his recent run of outstanding play, firing two touchdown passes on the night, one each to Demetrius Gill and Elijah Stokes, although a third-quarter interception was a blemish for the emerging player.
“I think he is growing up a little bit,” Johnson said of Hairston. “He never changes his demeanor. He is very even-keeled and a leader in the huddle. If you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t think he was a freshman the way he is playing for us right now. Never once did he get rattled or point his finger at any of his guys and that’s who you want leading your team. I think he is just going to continue to get better.”
Johnson said he wasn’t displeased with how the Bengals played overall, noting that two early mistakes ultimately cost Bassett a chance to win against a tough team.
“We fumbled into the end zone and they recovered for a touchdown,” Johnson said, recalling the first quarter of the game. “We got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff and fumbled the very first play on their 20 and we got a personal foul call added onto that. It put them in a first-and-goal situation. We gave up two touchdowns and Halifax only had 10 yards of offense. We shot ourselves in the foot with those two possessions.”
After closing the score to 13-7 with a solid drive ahead of halftime, Johnson said the mood was positive during the break.
“It was very different mood, we’ve won games after being down at half,” Johnson said. “The kids were upbeat and understood the situation. We gave them two gifts, from there they still had some fight in them.”
Hairston’s interception led to a Comets score and a 19-7 hole for Bassett, before Halifax essentially put the game away with a score to make it 25-7 in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, Johnson said the Bengals held Halifax County in check, allowing just three completed passes.
“I think they felt like they could throw the ball because we were stopping the run and stacking the box,” Johnson said. “We did our job against their running game. They’ve put up major yards on everybody and last year they whipped our tail. So it was nice to play better this year.”
With injuries mounting for Bassett, as they are for many teams six weeks into the season, Johnson said he was pleased with the fill-ins along the offensive line and with the emerging depth on offense, where Elijah Stokes showed he is another young player ready to assume responsibility for the Bengals.
“We had two offensive-lineman hurt and the young guys plugged in and played well,” Johnson said. “Elijah, another freshman came into his own against Patrick County last week and Halifax County this week. It’s good to see young kids start to play well. They’re trending in the right direction. I’m pretty excited about where we’re going.”
Where the Bengals (3-3) are going next is Dry Fork to face a Tunstall (0-5) team reeling from a 56-3 loss at the hands of Magna Vista.
“We feel every week is an opportunity for us to get better and win a game,” Johnson said. “Tunstall has a new head coach and I was in his shoes not too long ago. Year one is tough. He’s pounding the pavement and trying to get better. The scores haven’t looked great for them, but they play hard. It will be a good test for us.”
Halifax County High School 25, Bassett High School 15
HCHS – 13 0 6 6 – 25
B – 0 7 0 8 – 15