HENDERSONVILLE - The start of the second half is usually an indicator of how things will go for the rest of the game.
That old adage rang true Friday night at Hendersonville High School as the Commandos used a 21-0 dominant third quarter to pull away from the Cookeville Cavalier 59-42, advancing to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs for the second year in-a-row.
“They are a well-coached team and they exploited us a little bit on defense in the first half,” Hendersonville head coach James Beasley said of the 28-24 halftime deficit. “We were able to get into the locker room, regroup, and fix the things they were taking advantage of. What an offensive performance by us tonight. We played really well on that side of the ball all night long.”
Trailing 28-24 to start the third quarter, Hendersonville received the kick and marched 70 yards on just three plays reclaiming a lead they would not surrender.
Following a 41-yard run from Brent Rowe, Hendersonville called number 8’s number again, pounding his way for 15-yards and his second score of the game and the 31-28 advantage.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hendersonville got the break they were looking for as Cookeville fumbled the kickoff giving the Commandos excellent field position at the Cav 30-yard line.
Facing 3rd-and-5 at the 25, senior quarterback Drew Hohenbrink called his own number before getting a first down at the Cookeville 15-yard line.
After a hard-nosed Brent Rowe run to the Cav 3-yard line, Hohenbrink again called his number, this time scoring for the 38-28 lead with just over seven minutes left in the third quarter.
The Commando defense stiffened on the next Cav possession, forcing a Cookeville punt.
Hendersonville needed just five plays to reach the end zone again when Logan Spurrier ran in from 9-yards out giving the Commandos a commanding 45-28 lead with just under one minute left in the third quarter.
“Open the second half with a score, then recover a fumble, score, then force a punt, and score again. I think that is when the momentum really flipped our way,” Beasley said of the start to the second half. “We started the third quarter the way we wanted to. After that defensive stop, our kids had all the confidence to finish out the second half.”
Ellis Ellis capped off the 28 unanswered points from the Commandos when he raced 54-yards down the right sideline with 10:14 left in the game, putting the nail in the coffin at 52-28.
“It’s really nice to have guys you trust back there to carry the football,” Beasley said of his 5-headed monster in the backfield. “Whether it is Brent, Logan, Ellis, Issiah, or Helton we know they can make plays when they get the ball in their hands.”
The Cavaliers and Commandos traded scores before Jamison Barksdale got in on the scoring action, plunging in from 1-yard out and the 59-42 lead.
“To win a game like this is huge,” Beasley said. “That is a good football team. We will go look at tape and figure out what we did well and try and continue those things, but also there are a lot of things we need to get corrected next week. It will be nice to be at home again. That is always a plus.”
The Commandos will face off against Blackman at home on Friday, November 15 at 7:00 p.m.