Blue Comets spoil Ledford Homecoming
The Asheboro Blue Comets were less than interested in Haley Motsinger winning the crown of Homecoming Queen during halftime at Panther Stadium on Friday night. It took every bit of concentration they had to figure out how they were going to sustain a seven-point lead.
After a lengthy intermission period featuring pageantry and the lovely Miss Motsinger, the Comets did just that, topping Ledford 21-14.
“I feel like you had two really good football teams on the field tonight,” Ledford coach Chris Adams said. “When you talk about effort and desire, we had some kids who laid it all on the line tonight. It’s like I told them, even in defeat, I firmly believe we’re going to be OK down the road.”
An explosive return of the opening kickoff set Asheboro up with excellent field position to start the second half. The Panthers’ defense held forced a 36-yard field goal attempt, however, which missed wide right to keep them within a 7-0 margin.
In the third quarter, Asheboro failed to capitalize on yet another opportunity to add to its lead, despite great field position most of the night.
On their second drive of the half, the Comets fumbled inside the red zone, giving the ball back to a Ledford offense that was largely overmatched. The Panthers’ best weapon out of the backfield was linebacker Austin Stilley, who received several carries after fullback George Melvin was lost to a knee injury in the first quarter.
“To lose George in the first quarter, that’s a blow,” Adams said. “He’s a big part of our offense.”
With two minutes remaining in the third, Adams elected to go for the first down on 4th-and-1 just shy of midfield. Stilley ripped off a 10-yard run and regained momentum for the sputtering Panthers.
Midway through the second quarter, Ledford had 1st-and-goal from the 10 yard line. White completed a pass in the back of the end zone to Austin Humphries for what would have been a game-tying touchdown.
Waved off by a 15-yard penalty, that play effectively ended the drive and Edgar Deras missed a 31-yard field goal, leaving the Panthers still trailing 7-0. Stilley changed that with 32 seconds to go in the third quarter with a 17-yard TD run that knotted the score at 7.
In the fourth, the Blue Comets took to the air to put the game on ice. Emmanuel Jones caught his second touchdown of the night on a 64-yard hookup from quarterback Shyheim Lineberry to give Asheboro a two-score lead with 6:26 to go three minutes after Lineberry scored on a 16-yard run.
Stilley would draw the Panthers to within a touchdown on a 15-yard pass from White, setting up one final last-gasp play with five seconds remaining, but the Comets escaped with the victory.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.