By HARRISON HAMLET
(RIDGEWAY, Va.) – Forcing four turnovers and outgaining your opponent is usually a recipe for success in high school football.
Unfortunately for Magna Vista, they surrendered five turnovers and two blocked punts of their own in a 20-14 home loss to Halifax County on Friday night that head coach Joe Favero described as “sloppy.”
“We just played very sloppy. When you play that sloppy you’re not going to win,” Favero said. “They (Halifax) didn’t play great either. They turned the ball over I don’t know how many times, and we gave it right back to them. You can’t do those things and expect to win against good football teams. And they’re a good football team, but we gave them one. We made too many mistakes.”
A touchdown pass from Dryus Hairston to Tyler Johnson and an 87-yard track-meet touchdown run by Louis Taylor gave Magna Vista a 14-12 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but two crucial mistakes late in the final frame would haunt the Warriors.
Magna Vista had a fourth-and-one at their own 49 yard-line with 2:55 to play, sitting on a two-point lead. Initially, the Warriors’ offense was on the field. After a timeout, it was the punt team that trotted out. For the second time on Friday night, the rugby-style kick utilized by the Warriors resulted in a blocked punt.
Halifax County was able to turn the momentum, scoring just two plays after the block, converting a two-point conversion to take a 20-14 lead with 2:23 to play.
“Obviously now (in hindsight) I’d love to have gone for it,” Favero said of the fourth down play. “I hate when it’s short yardage, you know everybody is going to flop in there, and I kind of hate catching the ball five yards deep (in a shotgun formation) and trying to pick up a yard. We had a center-exchange problem on the opening drive and we turned the ball over on the three, and that’s our best short yardage play. We had already messed it up once; let’s not give them a chance to screw up again. Of course, then we give up a blocked punt when they really didn’t send a ton of guys to rush it.”
For a spread offense as efficient as Magna Vista’s, over two minutes was plenty of time to get back in scoring position, and Hairston led a drive down the field to do just that, with completions to Ty Grant, Andrew Santoemma, Johnson and Grant again to get inside the red zone at the Halifax County 19-yard-line.
With 1:18 on the clock, Hairston took a shot into the end zone, with Grant and a Halifax County defensive back both getting their hands on it. When the duo fell to the ground, it was ZyLiek Perkins of the Comets who came away with an interception instead of a Grant touchdown.
The turnover ended the game, as Halifax County was able to run out the clock and steal a 20-14 win in The Hole.
Asked if there was a silver lining to the Warriors’ second loss of the season, Favero was clear: No.
“With a young team sometimes there are good losses. When you have seniors, no,” Favero said. “We’re better than them (Halifax); we should have beat them. That’s my opinion. Good job for them, but we didn’t do what we needed to do to win the football game.”
Now, the Warriors must prepare to hit the road for the final two games of the season, both against tough teams. First, Magna Vista (6-2) will travel to G.W.-Danville (6-2) before closing out the season at Bassett (5-4).
“We were sloppy and that’s 100-percent on me,” Favero said. “I told the guys things will be tighter (moving forward). I’ve got to do a better job of getting the guys prepared during the week. I’ve got to do a better job of getting them prepared on game-day because I didn’t think we came ready to play. That’s 100-percent on the head coach. I’ll take it and we’ll get better.”
Halifax County (6-2) remains in the hunt for the Piedmont District title alongside Magna Vista, G.W.-Danville, and Bassett. The Comets will travel to play Patrick County (4-5) on Friday night.
Halifax County High School 20, Magna Vista High School 14
HCHS – 6 6 0 8 – 20
MVHS – 7 0 7 0 – 14
6:51 – HCHS – William Davis 8 rush (PAT miss)
0:37 – MVHS – Tyler Johnson 69 pass from Dryus Hairston (Cory Osborne PAT good)
0:45 – HCHS – Zyon Wilson 2 rush (2-pt fail)
4:45 – MVHS – Louis Taylor 87 rush (Cory Osborne PAT good)
2:23 – HCHS – Christian Mack 30 pass from Thomas Lee (2-pt pass from Thomas Lee to William Davis good)
HALIFAX COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL
William Davis 11 for 88, TD; Christian Mack 9 for 42; Zyon Wilson 8 for 33, TD; Thomas Lee 10 for 14, 3 fumbles. TOTAL 38 for 177, 2TD, 3 fumbles.
Thomas Lee 8-18 for 167, TD, INT.
William Davis 2 for 79; Christian Mack 3 for 61, TD; Traivius Chappell 2 for 27.
MAGNA VISTA HIGH SCHOOL
Louis Taylor 17 for 165, TD; Tyler Johnson 2 for -3; Dryus Hairston 12 for -12, 3 fumbles. TOTAL: 31 for 150, TD, 3 fumbles.
Dryus Hairston 14-28 for 242, TD, 2INT.
Tyler Johnson 5 for 132, TD; Ty Grant 6 for 74; Isaac Ellison 2 for 32; Andrew Santoemma 1 for 4.