Hendersonville – The Hendersonville Commandos struck early and often as they cruised to a 41-14 win over the Mt Juliet Golden Bears in the de facto Region 4 6A championship game on Friday night.
The Commandos scored quickly after a blocked punt and jumped out to a 28-0 lead at the half, before putting the game out-of-reach in the third quarter.
Hendersonville Head Coach James Beasley was thrilled with his team’s effort on the night as well as the execution of play.
“I’m just really impressed with the way our kids came out and responded to the challenge tonight,” Beasley said. “It’s the way we expect to play and I’m proud of them.”
On the other hand, it was a frustrating night for Mt Juliet, which saw Head Coach Trey Perry ejected late in the second quarter. Curtis Grah assumed acting head coaching duties for the remainder of the game.
After a three and out by the defense to start the game, the Commandos blocked a Golden Bear punt and set up first and goal at the 5. From there, Logan Spurrier scored on what was officially the first offensive snap for Hendersonville.
“We knew we were in for a dog fight tonight,” Grah said. “Turnovers were big, and they came out ready to play and we gave the ball to them,”
Brent Rowe got in on the action during Hendersonville’s next drive, capping the possession with a 1-yard touchdown plunge to give the Commandos a 14-0 lead.
The Golden Bears started to move the ball on their next possession, but fumbled back to Hendersonville near midfield.
After the Golden Bear defense appeared to get a stop, Hendersonville was given new life after Mt Juliet was called for a roughing the punter to gift the Commandos a first down. From there, Ellis Ellis ran in a 34-yard touchdown to make the score 21-0.
On the next Hendersonville drive, a big 32-yard catch and run by Spurrier on third down appeared like it would be called back for an illegal lineman downfield, but the flag was picked up. Keion Stafford ran in an 18-yard score on the very next play, making the score 28-0.
Frustrations boiled over as Coach Perry was then ejected from the game in between the score and kickoff.
The Commandos got came out swinging to start the second half, putting together an 80-yard scoring drive, capped by Spurrier’s second touchdown run of the night, a 28-yard scamper.
JD Jordan picked off a Stephen Swoner pass on the next series, setting up a 23-yard scoring strike from quarterback Drew Hohenbrink to Issiah Chandler, bringing the Commando advantage to 41-0.
“(Mt Juliet) gave us a few things with turnovers and penalties, but our kids took advantage of those,” Beasley said. “We’ve made mistakes in the second half of games this year, but we kept working and tonight we were able to put it all together.”
The Golden Bears got on the board late in the third quarter when Griffin Throneberry found Osize Daniyan for a 24-yard touchdown connection, cutting the deficit to 41-7.
Mt Juliet got another touchdown in the fourth quarter when Conlin Baggott ran in a 1-yard touchdown to cap the scoring on the night at 41-14.
Hendersonville will host a playoff game as the winner of the region and the one seed next Friday.
Despite the loss, Mt Juliet still hosts a playoff game due to finishing second in region play.
“We’ve got one choice, and we are going to fight,” Grah said. “We are going to give whoever we play our best shot, and our kids will be ready.”