By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
The Washington County Commanders hosted the Green County Dragons in WC’s home opener on Friday, losing 50-42 to fall to 1-2 on the season.
It’s no big secret that the young WC defensive line is vulnerable to the run. That’s something that Green County figured out early in the game. All of the Dragons' passing plays happened in the first quarter and there were a total of two of them. One was a pass from Dragon quarterback Justin Pendleton intended for receiver Burns Romines, but was picked off by WC’s Lee Mudd. The other was a 55-yard reception by Jason Morgan from Pendleton. For the rest of the game, Green County executed nothing but running plays, racking up a total of 426 rushing yards.
The game was pretty even through the first half with Green County taking the early 7-0 lead. WC answered as quarterback Joe Joe Simms connected with receiver Lee Mudd to find the end zone. Seth Mattingly’s extra point tied the score at 7-7 with 1:47 remaining in the first quarter.
It didn’t take long for the Dragons to get the lead back as they ran the kickoff return back 87 yards for another touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 1:33 left in the quarter.
The second quarter opened with the Commanders driving down the field and scoring on a spectacular catch by Quan Turner in the end zone. Mattingly made the point after to tie the score at 14-14.
Washington County recovered a Green County fumble on the kickoff and got the ball back on the GC 36 yard line. A completion to Alex Simms gave WC 1st and 10 on the 24. A couple of rushes by Joe Joe Simms gave the Commanders a first and goal on the 8. After an incompletion to Stewart Jones, Joe Joe ran the ball on second down for the touchdown. Mattingly missed the extra point, but WC now had a 20-14 lead with 8:19 remaining in the first half.
Green County answered with a 67-yard touchdown run by Zeth Rogers, followed by a pick of a Joe Joe Simms pass to regain possession and a touch down by Kyle Houk to give the Dragons a 28-20 lead.
WC got the ball back with about a minute left in the half. They marched down field, and with 20 seconds left, Joe Joe Simms connected with Lee Mudd for a touchdown. The Commanders successfully went for the two-point conversion as Alex Simms found the end zone to tie the score 28-28 just before the end of the first half.
The second half opened with the two teams continuing to slug it out back and forth as Green County would score, and then Washington County would come right back to take the lead again.
The WC defense had moments when they would put some big stops on Dragon drives, but as the third quarter came to an end, Green County had a 42-35 lead.
The most controversial play of the night happened in the fourth quarter as WC drove down the field on their way to the red zone. The Commanders found themselves in a fourth and inches situation with the ball on the Dragons' 14-yard line. After appearing to gain first down, the officials called for a measurement and they ruled that Washington County did not have a first down. Green County took over on their own 14 with 5:54 left to play.
The Dragons' Rogers ran for a 30-yard touchdown as GC increased their lead to 50-35.
Washington County refused to give up and they were still in the game. On the ensuing kickoff from Green County, the Commanders’ Quan Turner returned the ball 86 yards for six and Mattingly converted the extra point to bring the Commanders within eight points, trailing 50-42.
WC went for the onside kick but Green County recovered the ball with 2:03 remaining in the game. The Dragons punted on fourth and 16 and Washington got the ball back with 1:11 left on the clock.
An interception by Green County sealed WC’s fate as Pendleton took a knee to run the clock down, and hand WC their second loss of the year.
“They’re (Green County) a good football team,” said WC head football coach Mark Perry. “We knew going in that we would have to play well. We were close, we just didn’t get a couple stops we should have.”
Joe Joe Simms passed for 368 yards, completing 23 of 38 passes for four touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions. Lee Mudd had 156 yards receiving for eight catches including three touchdowns. Alex Simms had 10 receptions for 137 yards.
Washington County is gearing up this week to face the rival Knights of Marion County. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Marion County. The Commanders hope to see plenty of WC fans in the stands.