In Hendersonville’s first playoff game as a Class 6A school, the Commandos stuck to their guns, mainly the ground game.
Hendersonville rushed for 435 yards on 66 carries and kept Arlington’s high-powered offense at bay enough for a 49-31 victory Friday.
Corey Jones rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries, and Jon Reed added 125 yards of his own as Hendersonville handled well a game more than three hours from home.
“That’s what we do in our offense,” Hendersonville coach Bruce Hatfield said. “But it was also to try to keep the ball away from them and their offense, because they’re a potent football team.”
The victory gives Hendersonville a rematch at Station Camp, which won the first meeting 21-14 last week to secure the District 9-AAA title.
On Friday, quarterback Jeremias Elston had a touchdown run from a yard out on the Commandos’ first drive of the second half after Hendersonville (8-3) held a 21-17 halftime edge.
“We had a great team effort tonight,” Reed said. “We had great blocking up front, and we were good in all phases of the game.”
Hunter Sheffield completed 14 of 25 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns, but the Commandos also picked off three passes. Braden Schwerdt had two interceptions, and Terell Carter came up with one of his own.
“They throw a lot of quick passes and they catch you off guard going deep,” Schwerdt said. “They run a lot of double routes like out-and-ups and stuff like that. We had to be aware of those things.”
The Commandos overcame penalty trouble as well, as Hendersonville was flagged 13 times in the contest.
“I don’t know if all of them were penalties,” Hatfield said. “We’ll go back and look at the film and be able to tell, but certainly that’s a concern. The kids played hard and it gives them one more week and that’s the biggest thing.”
Said Reed: “It took a lot (to overcome the penalties). I understand that we’ve got to cut out the penalties, but I think if we get those out, I think we can be a team that can execute like no other.”