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Battle of the border

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Commanders fall 52-7 to rival Knights

By The Staff

By Jimmie Earls

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Sun Sports Writer

Blue vs. Gray. The Hatfields vs. the McCoys. The Roadrunner vs. Wile E. Coyote. The road of history is paved with heated rivalries. It’s no secret that when it comes to the Border War between Washington and Marion counties, things can get as serious as any major conflict. That’s why, when these two teams clash on the gridiron, it’s time to give it all you have and play for bragging rights.

Last year, the Commanders traveled to Lebanon and came home with a 17-14 loss. This time, Washington County hosted the Knights, and WC was looking for their first win against Marion since 2005.

During the Mark Perry era at WCHS, each contest between the two teams has been decided by a touchdown or less. But as Marion County has built themselves into a Class 4A contender, the 2A Commanders were ready to stand their home ground and not go out without a fight.

Although the Commanders came out on the short end of a 52-7 score, it wasn’t for lack of dedication or committment. As Perry said, the Knights are just that good this year.

“That’s a good team,” he said. “They’re probably the best team I’ve seen since I’ve been here. We prepared as hard as you can for any football game. You know you’re going up against a better team. You hope that the weather and the slop on the field will help keep you within striking distance in the fourth quarter, but it worked against us with our quarterbacks not having large enough hands to grip a slippery ball and throw. When you play a team like that, you just go in there and play your tail off and you try to get a break or two.

The weather didn’t help matters as days of rain took their toll on the ground at Bennett R. Lewis Field. Water and mud lined the sidelines. WC athletic director Glenn Goatley prepared the field during the week, but a heavy rain just before game time only made matters worse.

“The ball was muddy all night,” added Perry. “It was difficult for both sides to handle the football. But we just made a couple mistakes and all of a sudden, you blink and you’re behind 41-7.”

The Knights set the pace for the night by scoring on the first play from scrimmage as senior Bryson Bell took the ball in for the first Knight touchdown with 15 seconds expired. Bell scored again at the 6:00 mark to put MC up 14-0.

The Commanders’ only score of the game came on WC’s next possession. Junior running back Qwan Turner ran 56 yards for the only Washington County touchdown. Seth Mattingly’s extra point pulled WC within seven. But the Knights pulled away with another TD in the quarter, punctuated by a two-point conversion to lead 22-7 after the first.

The Knights padded their lead in the second quarter by scoring 30 points as the Commanders continued to struggle in the mud. The Knights took a 52-7 lead into the half.

Neither team put any points on the board in the second half, and at the end of a mud-soaked border battle, Marion County came away with the 52-7 win.

Perry is still optimistic about the season and knows that these games are just a stepping stone to help prepare for district play coming up in a couple of weeks.

“Nothing we’ve done so far has affected district play for us,” he added. “Our district is wide open. We need to get on a winning streak starting with Bethlehem this week and go try to be district champs.”

WC senior quarterback Michael Gash completed eight of 15 passes for 63 yards.

Turner led WC on the ground with 94 yards on 14 carries with one TD. Senior back Tyree Railey had 15 yards on nine carries. Freshman Tyler Loving had two carries for six yards.

WC ran 48 offensive plays for a total of 178 yards on the night.

The Commanders will be on the road this Friday as they travel to Bardstown to face the Bethlehem Eagles. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Catch live coverage on 100.9 MIKE-FM with the pre-game show starting at 7:15 p.m.

See next week’s print edition of The Springfield Sun for game highlights and photos.