By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
The Washington County Commanders had a limited time of possession Friday night, but put twice as many points on the board as the Bethlehem Eagles. WC won the game 40-20 and improved to 3-4 on the season.
“It was a good win,” said WC head football coach Mark Perry. “We didn’t play well on the defensive side, but it’s still a win. They say that’s the sign of a good football team, if you don’t play well but you still win the game.”
The key to WC’s win was making the most out of the time of possession. The Commanders had the ball for a total of 10 minutes and 36 seconds for the entire game, but were able to make the most out of it with one of the top offenses in Kentucky 2A football.
WC quarterback Joe Joe Simms completed 10 of 13 passes (77 percent) for 151 yards and four touchdowns. Simms also had 11 carries for 77 yards and one rushing touchdown.
Quan Turner had 102 yards receiving and two TD receptions, while Lee Mudd and Alex Simms each had one TD catch. Running back Nathan Hood had 33 yards on the night with one TD.
The Commanders totaled 275 yards and six first downs on 29 offensive plays, 124 yards on 16 rushing plays and 151 yards on 16 passing plays.
The game got off to an explosive start as WC won the coin toss and elected to receive. They took all of 39 seconds on two plays to put six points on the board as Turner found the end zone. Seth Mattingly kicked the extra point and the Commanders had a lead that they would not give up all night.
On Bethlehem’s first possession of the game, the Eagles barely had time to find their rhythm as Alex Simms intercepted the ball for WC on third and five at the Bethlehem 30-yard line. That set up a touchdown run by Joe Joe Simms. Mattingly’s point after attempt was off target and the Commanders were ahead 13-0 with 8:28 left in the quarter.
The Eagles got the ball back but coughed it up as WC defensive lineman Steven Sexton recovered the fumble on Bethlehem’s 23-yard line. Two plays later, it was a Simms-to-Simms connection as Joe Joe found his brother Alex in end zone. Mattingly added the extra point and the Commanders took a 20-0 lead with 7:33 remaining in the quarter.
Bethlehem came alive on their next series, which was highlighted by a fake punt that gave the Eagles a first down on the WC 11–yard line. The Commanders were whistled for being off sides, and after the ball was marked at half the distance to the goal, Bethlehem sophomore quarterback Clay Owens ran the ball into the end zone to put the Eagles on the board. The extra point was no good and the Commanders were ahead 20-6 with 3:19 left in the quarter.
Washington County fumbled the kickoff return and Bethlehem got the ball back. They were able to drive to the Commander 12-yard line as time expired in the quarter. WC’s time of possession in the first quarter was just 2:22.
The Eagles continued their drive in the second quarter until they fumbled on fourth and long. The Commanders recovered the ball and drove down the field, scoring on Turner’s second TD reception of the night. After Mattingly tacked on the extra point, WC was ahead 27-6. Bethlehem put together another strong drive but could not convert on fourth down. WC took over on downs but could not convert their own fourth and long situation and the Commanders punted with three seconds left in the half.
The first half ended with Washington County leading Bethlehem 27-6. Time of possession for the Commanders in the second quarter was 2:25, totaling 4:47 for the first half.
The second half opened with the Eagles on their own 36-yard line. A penalty pushed them back five yards and on the next play, they fumbled again as WC recovered on the Eagle 26-yard line with 11:36 on the clock. That set up a TD run by running back Nathan Hood. The extra point by Mattingly put WC up 34-6 at the 11:27 mark in the quarter. Those nine seconds would be the total time of possession in the quarter for WC as the Eagles hogged the ball for almost the entire quarter. Incredibly, Bethlehem was unable to score during any of that time as the WC defense held tight and refused to let Bethlehem have the big play. It took the Eagles 11:51 to drive from their own 20 to just short of the Commander goal line as time expired in the quarter.
The fourth quarter picked up where the third left off, with the Eagles in a third and short situation near the WC goal line. Bethlehem senior running back Cameron Wilson finally found the end zone and the Eagles converted a two-point attempt to make the score 34-14 Commanders with 11:16 left on the clock.
Turner returned the kickoff to the 24 for WC. Quarterback Simms tried to connect with Mudd down field, but Mudd was unable to reel it in. The Commanders punted on fourth and long and the Eagles got the ball with 9:42 remaining.
Bethlehem put together another scoring drive capped off by a touchdown run by sophomore running back Austin Downs. The extra point was blocked and the score now stood at Washington County 34, Bethlehem 20.
The Eagles went for the onside kick and recovered the ball at their own 47-yard line with 7:10 remaining. Bethlehem once again fumbled the ball and WC recovered, driving down the field and scoring on a TD catch by Mudd. Mattingly missed the extra point and the Commanders took a 40-20 lead with 3:42 left in the game.
Bethlehem was unable to make anything happen during their final possession and they were forced to punt with 1:42 left on the clock. WC ran the clock out and won their second game in a row to move to 3-4 on the season.
This Friday is homecoming at Washington County and the Commanders will be hosting Danville, which is 6-2 on the year and has won four in a row. The Admirals are averaging 33 points per game, so the WC defense will have a big test this weekend, and the Commander offense may need to put up some big numbers.
All the action can be heard on WYSB 102.7 FM with pre-game starting at 7 p.m. followed by the kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
Visit www.readthesun.com late Friday night for the score and tune into WYSB 102.7 FM at 10 a.m. every Saturday morning for the coach’s show, featuring game highlights and analysis by Coach Perry.