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Knight-mare for Commanders

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Marion County edges WC 17-14 for third straight head-to-head victory

By The Staff

By Jimmie Earls

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Sun Sports Writer

It didn’t take too long to see who would fire the first shot of the “border war” for 2008. In fact, it only took Marion County 17 seconds to put six points on the board with David Litsey’s opening kickoff return for a touchdown. Washington County never seemed to recover from that point in the game. Marion County defeated WC for the third straight year, winning 17-14 Friday night in Lebanon.

“Special teams is definitely an area where we need to get better,” said WC head football coach Mark Perry. “You hate to give up seven points that quick.”

Litsey’s run set the tone of the rest of the game as the Commanders got the ball and struggled to get down field. They managed to get to the 50-yard line but were forced to punt on 4th and 23. The Knights had a 1st and 10 in the red zone but were penalized for a false start. Then Marion County fumbled the ball with Washington County recovering on the 10-yard line. The Commanders drove the ball down the field, but time ran out in the first quarter with the Knights maintaining a 7-0 lead.

At the start of the second quarter, the Commanders capped off their 15-play, 90-yard drive with a touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Joe Simms to receiver Lee Mudd. Seth Mattingly’s extra point tied the score at 7-7. Both teams traded ball possession for most of the quarter, with the Knights adding a field goal to take a 10-7 lead into halftime.

WC got the ball at the start of the second half, but had to punt on 4th down. It only took Marion County two plays to score as Knight junior running back Dylan Peterson ran the ball into the end zone. With the extra point, Marion County took a 17-7 lead with 10:15 remaining in the quarter. Penalties plagued both teams as they traded possession back and forth.

After Marion County failed to convert a 4th and 5-yards on the WC 23-yard line, the Commanders took over on downs and put together their strongest series of the night highlighted by a fake punt on a 4th and 7 situation on their own 25-yard line. WC had the momentum as they ended the third quarter with 2nd and goal on the Knights’ 3-yard line.

Washington County started the fourth quarter with a delay of game penalty, pushing them back to the 8-yard line. Joe Joe Simms took the ball and ran for a touchdown, and Seth Mattingly’s point after brought the Commanders to within three points with 11:21 left in the game.

The Knights put together a good drive of their own but were forced to punt, giving the ball back to the Commanders with 7:38 on the clock. Washington County still had a chance to take the ball down field, but a Simms pass intended for Mudd was intercepted, turning the ball over to the Knights. Marion County could not put together a scoring drive and Washington County got the ball back for one last attempt to put more points on the board.

WC seemed to be putting together another strong drive when Simms was intercepted by Marion County’s Eric Miles with 2:30 left in the game. The Knights ran out the clock and improved their record to 4-0 on the season as the Commanders fell to 1-3.

The key to the game was Marion County’s defense, which managed to hold a Commander offense that was averaging 37 points per game this season to only 14. WC was held to 250 total yards for the game.

Commander quarterback Simms passed for 171 yards, completing 19 of 30 passes for 63 percent. He also threw two interceptions. Receiver Lee Mudd caught nine passes for 100 yards, while running back Nathan Mudd had 15 carries for 64 yards, averaging 4.27 yards per carry.

“We've got to be more productive on the ground, we've got to run the ball more effectively,” added Perry. “Joe Joe's a heck of a quarterback, I just put him into a couple of bad situations. I should have been more patient and stayed with the ground game or gone with shorter passes on the outside.”

This Friday, Washington County returns home to host the Bardstown Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Catch all the action live on the radio by tuning in WYSB 102.7 FM. Pre-game starts at 7 p.m. Also catch game highlights and photos in next week’s Springfield Sun and online at www.thespringfieldsun.com and www.readthesun.com.