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Hollis, Commanders roll past Purple Tigers
Oct 07, 2012 12:00 am
By ANDY REED
WATERTOWN — Friendship Christian and Watertown played cha-ching with the Robinson Stadium scoreboard Friday, with most of the green going to the Green in a 68-26 score-a-thon.
Both teams moved the football. But six Purple Tiger turnovers left Friendship with short fields. And while Watertown kept quarterback A.J. Long under control, tailback Steven Hollis exploded for 244 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries while also intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble at cornerback.
When Hollis went out with an injury, fullback Austin Taylor moved to tailback and scored four times himself while gaining 118 yards on 17 carries.
In all, the Commanders collected 417 yards on 53 carries while Long completed 6 of 15 passes for 69 more with a touchdown to a diving Stefan Remus.
"We lined up pretty much in two tights and ran it downhill, nothing fancy," Commander coach John McNeal said after running the I-formation the entire second half. "We felt like that was our best defense. We struggled a little bit containing [Ty] Jobe from a defensive standpoint."
"We anticipated seeing some under-center stuff," Watertown coach Gavin Webster said of Friendship's attack. "He showed it a little bit, especially last week [against Trousdale County]. We had a good game play. Hollis ran the ball well. He made some plays and we didn't."
Jobe completed 17 of 26 passes for 216 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown to Jake Belcher on a play in which the receiver was injured and missed the rest of the game. Brannon Hill ran 22 times for 201 yards and a pair of scores as the Tigers suffered their first loss of the season after six opening wins.
The Commanders collected 486 total yards to 372. But the 6-1 turnover ratio left the Tigers wondering what if?
"We got to take care of the football," Watertown coach Gavin Webster said. "You can't turn the football over six times against any football team, much less a good football team like what Friendship's got. Not that it cost us the game, but it sure hurt opportunities. You never know, it could have changed the outcome... I think we turned over on the 5 twice and all they had to do was turn around and punch it in. We were getting ready to score one time and turned it over.
"We did put 26 on the board, but when you leave your defense hanging out there a long time, you turn the ball over six times, you're leaving your defense hanging out to dry."
Two plays after Hollis got Friendship going with a 13-yard touchdown, Dillon Hodges forced and recovered a fumble at the 6, from where Hollis scored on first down.
Jobe drove the Tigers 80 yards to a 1-yard scoring sneak to cut the margin in half to 13-6.
But Friendship scooted right back 64 yards to Taylor's 4-yard score. Following another Tiger turnover at the Watertown 10, Long found Remus with the fade in the left side of the end zone for a 27-6 lead with nearly three minutes left in the first quarter.
Jobe came back with the 22-yard pass to Belcher in the closing seconds of the period to make it 27-12.
A shanked punt gave Watertown life at the Friendship 44-yard line. But Ian Isbell recovered a Tiger fumble at the 27. Long sneaked over from a yard out for a 34-12 lead.
Hollis then won a jump ball on a deep pattern to intercept a pass at the Friendship 13.
"A lot of times you create the turnovers," McNeal said. "I got to give our defense credit for making those turnovers and giving us the ball in those positions."
After halftime, Long, who is making a recruiting visit to Duke this weekend, was limited to handing off or pitching the ball. Taylor scored on runs of 6 and 8 yards in the third quarter and a 7-yarder early in the fourth. Hill countered for the Tigers with a 4-yarder late in the third.
Hollis added a 7-yarder early in the fourth for a 62-26 lead and start the running clock.
Another fumble, recovered by Taylor at the Watertown 35, gave Friendship another shot. McNeal pulled his first-team offense. But freshman running back Gene Carman cut left and swept in from 9 yards moments before the nearly three-hour marathon reached the final whistle.
Watertown will travel to Gordonsville at 7 p.m next Friday. Friendship [7-1] is off next week before a trip to Red Boiling Springs on Oct. 19 and the Oct. 26 finale at home against Monterey.
"We need to finish 9-1 and hopefully get the bye," McNeal said. "We don't know how the pods are going to unfold. But we just need to take care of our business."
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952, ext. 17; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org