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Commanders finish regular season on sloppy note

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By Brandon Mattingly

 

The Commander (2-8) football team concluded the regular season last week with a 49-7 loss at the hands of LaRue County (5-5) in an ugly contest with uglier weather.

The Commanders and Hawks battled through temperatures in the 40s and constant rain, as Washington County struggled to keep up, turning the ball over four times and losing over 40 yards on a pair of botched punt attempts.

“We practice hard on our special teams each week,” said Washington County Head Coach Eric Sagrecy. “The weather was not a factor, we just made mistakes. The punts stood out and they were big plays for LaRue, but we also covered kickoffs poorly and played one of our worst special teams games of the year. Several times this year our special teams have helped us, but Friday night they really hurt us. A lot of the time it’s hard to sell guys on the importance of the special teams, but Friday night showed just how important that phase of the game is.”

The Hawks, who compiled 354 yards rushing, used the ground game to get on the board on their first possession, thanks in part to a 52-yard run by senior Caleb Canter. Senior Matt Hornback scored from 10 yards out to cap the scoring drive.

Then the Washington County miscues came into play. An illegal motion penalty ended any thoughts WC had of converting an early fourth-and-one play, and the snap on the punt attempt that followed sailed well over punter Jordan Bottoms’ head, as he was forced to cover the ball at his own five-yard-line on a 34-yard loss.

The Hawks punched in their second rushing touchdown of the first quarter moments later.
After LaRue County added a third rushing touchdown early in the second quarter, the Commanders had more special teams problems when a punt was mishandled at the 10-yard-line. Working with a short field, the Commander defense rose to the occasion this time, allowing the Hawks to gain just one yard before failing on a fake field goal attempt and leaving the score at 21-0 at intermission.

The special teams conundrum of the night continued in the second half, as LaRue’s  Dalton Lawson took the opening kickoff for a Hawks touchdown, before WC coughed the ball up on a kickoff of their own moments later. Facing a fourth-and-two at the Washington County 27-yard-line, quarterback Gabe Shirley found his way into the endzone to quiet any thoughts the Commanders had of mounting a comeback.

Trailing 42-0 in the fourth quarter, WC finally got the offense moving behind runs of 15 yards and 14 yards by quarterback Morgan Churchill. JaQualin Thompson, who returned after missing several games with a concussion, added a 10-yard run to set up an 11-yard score by Churchill.

Sagrecy expected to see a versatile ground game from LaRue County on Friday, but he said his defense will need to play more like it had in the previous three games if they want to have any success in the playoffs.

“They were doing just as we expected and practiced that they would do,” he said. “At times in the game we played it right and at times, as in the first quarter (when the Hawks ran for 123 yards), we played it wrong. Our defense played well in spurts, but wasn’t consistent. Sometimes something as small as the shoulder you take on a block with can result in big plays, that is what happened on Friday.”

The Commanders will be at Glasgow at 8 p.m. on Friday to take on the Scotties (8-2) in the first round of the class 2A playoffs.