HENDERSONVILLE Hendersonville earned a 28-14 win over defending district champion Hillsboro,breaking a two-game losing streak and picking up a much-needed District 6-5A victory.
Five things that highlighted the Commandos’ victory:
Coming off life support
Hendersonville (3-2 overall, 1-2 Region 6-5A) was in desperate need of a district victory, having dropped a 47-46 loss to Cane Ridge two weeks ago, followed by a 24-23 setback against Beech last week.
The win gives them some breathing room against one of the district’s perennial favorites, where a loss to Hillsboro would have put the Commandos in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Heads up, 7-up
Hendersonville received a lot of help from Hillsboro (2-3, 1-1) as the Burros committed seven turnovers, four of which were interceptions. Senior defensive back Weston Schwerdt claimed three picks, including a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown that put the Commandos up 21-0 late in the third quarter.
The biggest turnover of the contest may have come late in the second quarter with Hendersonville holding a 14-0 lead. From his own 3-yard line, Hillsboro quarterback Antwuan Goodner hit receiver Tre Dickerson for what appeared to be a 97-yard touchdown. Dickerson fumbled the ball trying to transition hands at the Hendersonville 1-yard line, with the ball going out of the end zone for a touchback.
Both sides agreed on the enormity of the play.
”The fumble, when it looked like they were going to have the long touchdown, really swung the momentum, and pumped us up,” Schwerdt said. “(Hillsboro) lost some of their wind after that.”
Hillsboro coach Craig Clayton agreed, saying “That was the biggest play of the game, even with all the other turnovers. We score right there, and it’s a different game.”
After a meager 139 yards of offense on the ground in last week’s loss against Beech, Hendersonville found its ground game against Hillsboro.
The Commandos rushed for 296 yards on 47 carries that was highlighted by running back Anthony Hughes’ 103 yards on eight carries.
Hughes had a 39-yard touchdown run for the game’s opening score, while fellow running back Luke Carver scored on a 26-yard run to push the Hendersonville advantage to 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
Surviving the air raid
Cane Ridge quarterback D.J. Thorpe threw for 291 yards in a 47-46 overtime win against Hendersonville two weeks ago. Goodner provided another aerial display, tossing for 360 yards and a pair of scores.
Hendersonville, however, was able to limit the amount of big plays the Burros were able to get as Goodner was held to only 50 percent passing, going 15 of 30 through the air.
It still made for a difficult time, Hendersonville linebacker/offensive guard Bryan Strahm said. “They (Hillsboro) have a lot of guys who have some shake to them, but we were able to make enough plays, and to tackle. You need to be able to get teams like that on the ground, and not miss when you have the chance.”
Sending the Burros packing
Last year, in a much-billed television matchup, Hillsboro overcame an early 14-0 deficit against Hendersonville to claim a 49-21 win over the Commandos.
The contest ultimately decided the outcome of District 6-5A with the Burros winning the regular season title and making it to the quarterfinals before losing 28-20 to eventual 5A champion Independence. This year, Hendersonville was able to avoid the big plays that cost them heavily in last season’s loss.