It was a blowout, but it didn’t feel like a blowout.
The GW Eagles beat the Halifax County Blue Comets 62-27 in a Homecoming showdown Friday at J.T. Christopher Stadium. But the Comets more than held their own and made sure little came easy for the Eagles.
“The kids played hard,” GW Head Coach Nick Anderson. “We wanted this one bad.”
Going into the game, Senior Eagle tailback stood on the brink of history. He had 58 career touchdowns, one short of the all-time record of 59 held by David Wilson. Graves wasted no time re-writing the books. He scored from 20 yards out, less than two minutes into the game, to tie the record. On the first play of the next possession, Graves ripped off a 77-yard touchdown run to break the record.
And he was just getting started.
The Eagles built a 14-0 lead a little more than four minutes into the game. But the Comets settled down. On their third possession, they put together a long drive. It ended with an eight-yard TD pass from Thomas Lee to Christian Mack to make it 14-7. Another Graves touchdown re-established the two-score lead for the Eagles. But the Comets offense put together another long drive. They scored with four minutes left to pull to within 21-14.
After forcing an Eagle punt, the Comets got the ball with a chance to tie the score before halftime. But the Eagles pressured Lee into throwing an interception. Sophomore Linebacker Ahmad Poole returned it to the Comet 20. Three plays later, the Eagles scored on a short pass from Shakobe Hairston to Shawn Watlington, giving them a 27-14 halftime lead.
“Shakobe has progressively passed the ball better and better each week,” Anderson said. “So that just opens us our offense even more. We’re pretty explosive as it is.”
Midway through the third quarter, the Eagles stretched the lead on a perfect pass from Hairston to Zavion King on a streak pattern. The 55-yard score made it 34-14. But the Comet answered immediately with their own long scoring pass---a 56-yard connection from Lee to Mack. The Eagles quickly restored their three touchdown lead with a 30-yard scoring run from Graves---his fourth.
The Comets tried to answer, but a long pass downfield was picked off by Watlington at the Eagle five. He weaved his way upfield, found a wall of blockers, and returned the pick 95 yards for a touchdown. It was Watlington’s third career interception return for a score, and made it 48-21 GW.
“He’s electric,” Anderson said. “Any time you get him the football in open field he has a chance to score”
The Comets scored again early in the fourth, but the Eagles closed out the scoring with two more touchdowns, including the fifth of the night from Graves.
The Eagles rushed for more than 400 yards for the second straight week. Graves had another monster night. He picked up 257 yards on 16 carries. His five touchdowns gives him 27 on the season. His Head Coach continues to shake his head in amazement.
“Man, he’s special,” Anderson said. “His work ethic is second to none. The cat never takes a day off.”
GW had one of their best passing attacks of the year. Hairston was 10-14 for 173 yards and two scores. The Eagles racked up a season-best 578 yards of total offense. The Comets moved the ball for 362 yards.
The win puts the Eagles at 5-2 on the year and 3-0 in the Piedmont District. They’re tied for first place with Magna Vista. Next week, the Eagles travel to Henry County to take on the 5-3 Bassett Bengals.
First Downs GW 14 Halifax 13
Rushes/Yds GW 31-405 Halifax 42-171
Pass yards 173 191
Total Yards 578 362
GW Att. Yds. TDs
Graves 16 257 5
Edmunds 11 61 1
Pritchett 1 37 0
Hairston 2 20 0
Bethel 1 10 0
Halifax Att. Yds TDs
Mack 13 107 0
Smalls 9 38 1
Davis 9 30 0
Wilson 4 10 0
Lee 4 -6 0
Davis 3 -8 0
GW Att. Comp. Yds TDs Int.
Hairston 14 10 173 2 0
Halifax Att. Comp. Yds TDs Int.
Lee 19 10 159 3 2
Chappell 1 1 32 0 0
GW No Yds TDs
Sn. Watlington 4 59 1
King 3 81 1
McClary 2 34 0
Sy. Watlington 1 9 0
Halifax No. Yds TDs
Chappel 4 60 1
Mack 3 96 2
Davis 3 30 0
Smalls 1 5 0