HENDERSONVILLE -- The Hendersonville Commandos rolled up 259 yards rushing and forced three Mt. Juliet turnovers in a 41-14 win Friday night.
With the win the Commandos won the Region 4-6A title.
"They are a good football team, and when you turn the ball over against them, they are going to make you pay," said Mt. Juliet assistant coach Curtis Grah, who took over the head coaching duties late in the first half after head coach Trey Perry was flagged for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and was ejected.
Hendersonville got the game started with a bang, After forcing a three-and-out on Mt. Juliet's first possession, Hilton Porter broke through line and blocked the punt by Tyler Johnson that was recovered at the Golden Bears' 5-yard line. On the next play, Logan Spurrier scored, giving the Commandos an early 7-0 lead.
On the next drive by Mt. Juliet, the Bears appeared to get their offense going as quarterback Griffin Throneberry connected with Malik Bowen for a 27-yard gain, but Bowen was ruled to have his knee hit out of bounds before he could get his foot down inbounds, thus forcing another Golden Bear punt.
Hendersonville then drove 65-yards in 12-plays as Brent Rowe scored from a yard out. A personal foul penalty against the Golden Bears kept the drive alive for Hendersonville.
On its next drive, Mt. Juliet was able to gain some steam. Tayshaun Thompson gave the Golden Bears their initial first down of the game, and then a facemask penalty against the Commandos moved the ball to the Mt. Juliet 44-yard line. However on the next play, Conlin Baggott fumbled just as he crossed midfield. Cody Booker recovered for the Commandos and returned the fumble to Golden Bear 45-yard line.
After forcing a three-and-out by Commandos, Mt. Juliet was poised to take possession at its own 17-yard line, but a roughing-the-kicker penalty against the Golden Bears kept the drive going for Hendersonville. Three plays later Ellis Ellis scored from 34 yards out. Two penalties were called on the play, but the officials determined the fouls happened after the touchdown, making the score stand for the Commandos, and increasing their lead to 21-0.
On the Golden Bears' next drive, Throneberry completed a pass to Bowen, but after picking the first down Bowen was stripped and the Commandos recovered the fumble at the Mt. Juliet 37-yard line. The Mt. Juliet defense this time forced a punt from Hendersonville.
After forcing the Golden Bears to punt once again, the Commandos faced a third-and-8 at midfield. Quarterback Drew Hohenbrink flipped the ball to Spurrier, who ran to the Mt. Juliet 18-yard line. There was initially a flag on the play for an illegal block on the play, but another official told the person who threw the flag to pick it up, saying there was no illegal block. On the next play Keon Stafford scored on a 18-yard scamper, increasing the Hendersonville lead to 28-0. After the extra point, Perry voiced his frustration about the officiating and received two unsportsmanlike penalties, resulting in his ejection. Hendersonville lined up a 40-yard field at the end of the first half, but the kick was blocked by the Golden Bears.
The Commandos started the second half where they left off in the first half. They drove 80 yards in 10 plays as Spurrier scored his second touchdown on the game, this one from 28 yards.
On the next drive by the Golden Bears, quarterback Stephen Swoner was intercepted by J.D. Jordan, who returned the interception to the Mt. Juliet 23-yard line. On the next play Hohenbrink connected with Jordan Chandler for a 23-yard touchdown pass, increasing the lead to 41-0.
Mt. Juliet answered right back as Throneberry connected with Osize Daniyan for a 24-yard touchdown. Then, after forcing a Hendersonville punt, Baggott scored from 1 yard out to make the final 41-14.
Baggott led all rushers 69 yards. Mt. Juliet was flagged for 13 penalties for 132 yards. Even with the loss Mt. Juliet finished second in Region 4-6A and will host Murfreesboro Riverdale in the first round at 7 p.m. this coming Friday at Elzie Patton Stadium/Mel Brown Athletic Complex. Perry is likely to be suspended for this game, per TSSAA rules, following his ejection, barring a successful appeal.
"Our kids will be ready (Friday)," said Grah. "We have only got one choice and we are going to fight."