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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
While most outcomes in sports are unpredictable, one thing was certain last Friday night in Springfield. Either the 0-2 Washington County Commanders or the 0-3 Taylor County Cardinals were going to win their first game of the season. After 48 minutes of play, it was the Cards who came away with a 28-27 win.
In addition to the Commanders coming up one point short on the scoreboard, junior back Quan Turner ended the night three yards shy of setting a new WC single-game rushing record.
Taylor County got on the board halfway through the first quarter on a keeper by senior quarterback Lance Turpin. The extra point gave TC an early 7-0 lead.
Trae Abell started at QB for the Commanders, but got into some trouble, as the Cards came up with an interception to gain control of the ball. A big run by TC senior back Cody Newton gave the Cards a first and goal at the Washington County five-yard line. Another keeper by Turpin and the PAT put Taylor County up 14-0. The Commanders got the ball back, but failed to convert on fourth down as the Cards got the ball again as the first quarter ended.
At the 9:53 mark in the second, Cardinal junior Bronson Ingram found the end zone for the third Taylor TD of the game as the Cards jumped ahead 21-0.
Senior Michael Gash came in at QB for the Commanders. With a first and 10 at his own 31-yard line, Gash was picked off by Cardinal defender Hunter Pelly, who returned the ball for the fourth Taylor County touchdown.
With three minutes remaining in the first half, WC junior Quan Turner got the Commanders on the board as he cruised into the end zone for what would be the first of his four touchdowns on the night. Place kicker Seth Mattingly missed the PAT and at the half, Taylor County led 28-6.
The Commanders found life in the second half as they reached the end zone early in the third quarter on a 61-yard touchdown by Turner. WC went for the two-point conversion, but came up short. The teams traded possessions until WC added a field goal by Mattingly that pulled the Commanders closer, making the score 28-15.
Another Turner TD early in the fourth brought WC within seven as the Cardinals held a 28-21 lead. At the 6:50 mark, Turner broke into the end zone again, but a missed extra point gave the Cards a slim one-point lead as the score stood at 28-27. Although the Cards failed to score in the second half, they were able to hold on for the victory.
On the offensive end, Turner had 286 yards on 22 carries, averaging 13 yards per carry, falling just short of the record of 288 yards set by Mitchell Hughes against Moore on Oct. 13, 2000. Turner also had 20 receiving yards on three catches, giving him a total of 306 all-purpose yards on the night.
Kyle Curtsinger led WC receivers with 42 yards on two receptions, while Ben Simms caught three passes for seven yards, and Abell netted four yards on two catches. On the ground, Abell also tallied 16 yards on five rushes.
Gash completed seven of his 20 passing attempts for 35 percent and a total of 61 yards with one interception. Abell went three-for-five for 60 percent and 12 yards wile also throwing one INT.
Washington County ran 55 offensive plays for a total of 373 yards, 299 on the ground and 73 through the air. They had nine first downs, two turnovers and four penalties for 39 yards.
Taylor County ran 71 plays for 258 total yards, 170 coming on the rush and 88 by the pass. They totaled 12 first downs, two turnovers and were penalized five times for 30 yards.
“This was the exact opposite of what we did against Western Hills,” said WC head football coach Mark Perry. “Against Western, we came out of the gate and played for about a quarter and then didn’t play a lot of good football after that. Against Taylor County, we came out and just took it for the first half. But there was a football team there in the second half I’ve been waiting to see that had some energy, excitement and emotion. When you play with emotion, and that’s how you play football, then we have a chance to be a pretty good football team. We can build off that second half and I think the team understands that that’s the way we have to play if we’re going to win games this year. Hats off to Taylor County, they did what it took to win. In the first half, we didn’t do anything to help ourselves. You saw two sides of Washington County, the bad side in the first half and the good side in the second half, when we played a lot harder and with some emotion. That’s the team that has to show up every Friday night.”
Perry says there’s still time to make improvements before the district schedule approaches in a few weeks.
“Weeks seven through 10 is when you want to be peaking,” added Perry. “This is a tough loss, but in the second half, I saw a football team that we build on.”
The Commanders hit the road this Friday as they travel to Stanford to face the 2-1 Lincoln County Patriots.
Catch the action live on WLBN 1590 AM with the pre-game show at 7:15 p.m., followed by the kick-off at 7:30 p.m.
Game highlights and photos will be available in next week’s print edition of The Springfield Sun.