The GW Eagles opened the 2019 playoffs last Friday with a sluggish offensive performance. But it was more than offset by a stellar defense and one big special teams play. The Eagles went on the road and beat the Halifax County Blue Comets 27-6 to advance to Round Two.
The Eagles threw down the gauntlet quickly. Before most of the fans got settled into their seats, Shawn Watlington took the opening kickoff at the 12, squirted through a narrow seam in the middle, and outran the Comets for an 88-yard touchdown. A missed extra point kept the score 6-0.
While the GW defense was keeping the Comets at bay, their offense struggled. Senior tailback Wesley Graves was still showing the effects of an ankle injury. The Eagles also missed a sure touchdown when a pass to a streaking Shy Watlington was overthrown by mere inches.
The Eagles stretched it out to a two-score lead when Graves rumbled in from seven yards out midway through the second quarter. Meantime, the Eagle defense got interceptions from Kendrell McClary and Watlington to keep the Comets off the board.
GW closed out the first half with a short drive that ended with a diving, one-yard plunge from quarterback Shakobe Hairston. They led 20-0 at halftime.
The Comets got the ball to open and second half and picked up first downs moving into the Eagles’ red zone. But the GW defense stiffened on a fourth down and the Comets had no points to show for a seven-and-a-half minute drive. The Eagles offense got the ball back and had their best drive of the night. It ended with a seven-yard scoring pass from Hairston to Zavion King.
The Eagles kept their 27-0 edge though most of the fourth quarter. A Comet touchdown with 1.6 seconds left on the clock prevented GW from recording their first back-to-back shutouts in four years.
GW’s 276 yards of offense was their lowest total of the season. They limited Halifax to 198 total yards. It was GW’s 14th consecutive win over the Blue Comets.
The win improves the Eagles record to 8-3. This Friday they’ll travel to Salem Stadium to take on the top-ranked Salam Spartans. It will be the third time in the last six seasons they’ve met in the playoffs. Salem won the previous two meetings in 2014 and 2017.
First Downs 14 10
Rushes/Yds 33-144 36-132
Passes C-A-I 11-15-1 6-13-2
Pass Yds 132 66
Total Yds 276 198
Rushing (Att Yds Tds,)
Graves 14 56 1
Edmunds 5 36 0
Watlington 3 33 0
Hairston 11 19 1
Mack 13 57 0
Lee 9 32 0
Wilson 7 18 0
Roberts 3 16 1
Passing Att. Comp Yds Tds Int.
Hairston 15 11 132 1 1
Lee 13 6 66 0 2
Receiving No. Yds. Tds
Sn. Watlington 3 51 0
Howard 2 39 0
Sy. Watlington 2 32 0
King 2 9 1
McClary 1 7 0
Pritchett 1 -2 0
Roberts 2 23 0
Mack 2 22 0
Chappell 2 10 0
GW --- Sn. Watlington 88 kickoff return (kick failed) 11:46
GW --- Graves 7 run (Deandrea kick) 8:57
GW --- Hairston 1 run (Deandrea kick) :21.7
GW --- King 9 pass from Hairston (Deandrea kick) 2:44
HC --- Roberts 3 run (run failed) :1.6