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Athlete of the week: Central Davidson's Jake Comer

Central Davidson's Jake Comer (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

It would have been easy for Central Davidson to quit at halftime Friday night.

The Spartans were a long way from home, they trailed 23-7 to Forest Hills in the first round of the 2-AA state playoffs, and their double-wing offense looked like it had both wings clipped.

But Jake Comer, and everybody in a Spartan uniform and on the Spartan sideline, wouldn’t let that happen.

With Saig Skeen following behind him and the rest of the offensive line, Comer and the Spartans rallied for an unbelievable 47-46 victory over the Yellowjackets for the first playoff win at Central in over 25 years.

The formula for the rally was simple. “During halftime, we really knew that we could score on them,” Comer said. “It was just a matter of everybody had to do their part. In the first half everyone was acting a little lazy and not doing their part.

“There wasn’t any hollering during halftime; it was more, ‘We aren’t gonna go out there and aren’t gonna make it our last game.’ Everybody just decided they wanted to win, and we went out there and started blocking better and running better, and everything started clicking.”

Did it ever. On Forest Hills’ first play from scrimmage, quarterback Jared Lee — who had torched the Spartans in the first half with his arm and legs — fumbled, and Levi Bruff scooped it up and ran in for a touchdown.

“That fumble really helped,” Comer said. “We went out there and scored after that, so everyone started believing. Everyone knew that we could do it if we wanted to. And I think everybody really wanted it.”

Forest Hills scored on its next two possessions, but the offense kept the Spartans within arm’s length. Skeen broke a 64-yard touchdown run on an inside trap, broke free for an 83-yard touchdown catch on a screen pass from Nathan Dennis, then romped 52 yards to paydirt to get Central within 37-34 early in the fourth quarter.

All of a sudden, a halftime blowout had turned into a ballgame. While the same two teams were on the field, and Central was running the exact same plays, the effort was at a totally different level. “I don’t think everyone was playing to the best of their potential,” Comer conceded about the first half. “If we were, obviously, we would have scored. It’s hard playing your best if you don’t believe in the man next to you.”

With their season on the line, they had to step up their sense of urgency. “At halftime it really clicked, that we only had 24 minutes left to play for the seniors if we didn’t go out there and play as hard as we could. Nobody wanted this to be their last game. So we went out there and left it all on the field and came out with the win.”

They still had work to do, though. Forest Hills scored two more times, on Lee’s 12-yard keeper to make it 43-34, then on Alan Tinoco’s 30-yard field goal with four minutes left.

That gave the Spartans just the right amount of time to drive the length of the field. Starting at their own 12 yard line, Central kept doing what it had done since halftime — marching the ball right down the Yellowjackets’ throats. “We knew that we could do it, we just had to put it all on the field,” Comer added. “And we couldn’t hold anything back if we wanted to score. We got to about the 50 and looked at the clock, and we all said, ‘Guys, we can score. We just have to put it to ‘em.’”

That’s exactly what they did. Skeen scored with 10 seconds left to give the Spartans their first lead of the night. They led for exactly 10 seconds, but it was the right 10 seconds.

So now, the Spartans will travel to face Central Carolina Conference foe Salisbury on the road Friday night. They will run the same plays they’ve run for two years. They will hope, like they did in the second half against Forest Hills, those plays work to perfection.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or