By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Martin County came to Olive Hill looking to redeem themselves for a loss to the Comets earlier in the season, earn a district title, and advance to regional play. But, just like in October, the Cardinals’ ambitions couldn’t overcome the West Carter defense or hold back their offense. That didn’t stop them from trying though, and forcing West Carter to earn their 27-19 victory in a hard-fought game.
The Comets scored first, early in the first quarter, on their first offensive play when Cole Crampton ran the ball for a 65-yard touchdown after West Carter took their first-down on kickoff on their own 35. A good kick from Isaac Bond put the Comets at 7-0 just two-and-a-half minutes into the game.
The Cardinals weren’t going to make them all that easy for the West Carter team, though.
The Martin County team fought their way to two first downs, and the 41-yard line, before an interception from Jake Barker gave the Comets possession again. Five minutes into play the Comets found themselves at first and ten on the 37, and after a loss of five and gain of six, at third and nine on the 38, when a pass intended for Jackson Bond was broken up by Martin County’s Damian Cheek, effectively ending offensive play for the Comets.
The Cardinals spent the rest of the first quarter fighting their way into scoring position, and though the Comets held them scoreless as the clock ran out, they’d pick up their first touchdown just four seconds into the second quarter to tie the game.
The ball would trade sides three more times before the Comets scored again, with Crampton picking up his second touchdown of the night. Bond took the score to 14-7 on a second good kick with just 2:40 left in the half, but the Comets weren’t done just yet. After taking over on downs Jackson Bond picked up the kick around the 20 and carried it to the Cardinals 48 for a first down. With just 50 seconds left, Bond went out for a deep pass, but it was incomplete, and the Comets changed strategy. Crampton carried the ball forward a little at a time, eventually getting a first down after being forced out at the 25 with 23 second left in the half. After a penalty put the Comets at second and 20, and another incomplete pass gave them the third down, the West Carter team once again defined perseverance as Jackson Bond picked up the pass, and the touchdown, with just three seconds left. After Isaac Bond connected on his kick, the score was 21-7 at halftime.
The Cardinals redoubled their efforts in the second half, but it simply wasn’t enough.
Sam Jones would score for the Comets before the third quarter came to an end, on a tight pass into the endzone, taking the score to 27-7, where it would stay after an unsuccessful attempt at a two-point conversion.
Martin County’s late game rally would lead to two more touchdowns, the first at the top of the fourth quarter and the second just over four minutes in, on a running play from Dawson Mills, but no more successful kicks. They wouldn’t be able to overcome the West Carter defense again before the clock ran out on the night, the Comets leaving the ball on the goal line, in scoring position, as they let the final seconds tick off on their third district championship in as many years.
“I’m just so proud of our kids,” coach Daniel Barker said after the game. “You know, nothing’s been easy for them this year – on or off the field. COVID is tough on these kids, and these kids have done three years of it. But, our kids just overcome. It doesn’t matter the obstacles, they just never cease to amaze me, with their toughness and their grit and their desire to win. You know, they want to represent our community, and our team, the right way, so I’m just super proud of them.”
The Comets will face District 7 champions, Middlesboro, this Friday at Middlesboro.
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