Sumner County’s longest running rivalry wrapped up just before 10 p.m. Friday on Calvin Short Field as the visiting Hendersonville Commandos rode the Wave to a 41-7 victory.
Torin Baker led the Commandos on the ground, rushing for 128 yards and three scores, while senior Ellis Ellis added 116 yards on the ground with two scores and another on a short shovel pass from Luke Manning. No. 10 also added a pair of interceptions as the Commandos forced four Green Wave turnovers on the night.
The win improves Hendersonville to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in league play while dropping Gallatin to 1-3 overall and 1-1 in region action.
The series, which dates back to the 1940s, has been played consecutively since 1964, with the Green Wave holding a 43-21-1 mark through 65 games played. Most of Gallatin’s wins came during Calvin Short’s years dominating Middle Tennessee football from the 1970s-90s. Since 2001, the two teams share an 11-11 split in wins and losses, with the Commandos holding a 4-1 advantage over the last five and a 6-4 advantage over the previous 10 meetings, including a playoff win in 2010.
“This game means a lot to those who have been around our program and our community a long time,” Hendersonville head coach James Beasley said. “They are the oldest rival we have and have gotten the better of us more than we have them. It’s tough for us to come here and play well, so for us to respond the way we did in the second half was big for us.”
As well as the offense played, Hendersonville’s defense played just as solid — limiting Gallatin to only 148 total yards.
The defensive line routinely met Gallatin ball carriers at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. The Commandos forced four turnovers in the contest and limited the Green Wave to only seven first downs.
“The effort was great tonight; our offensive and defensive lines played hard,” Beasley said. “There were mistakes made by us tonight that need to be corrected, but the positive is we are playing for each other more than we are playing for ourselves. Ellis and Torin are dynamic players and do good things when they have the ball in their hands — we need to continue to improve, so those guys have those opportunities.”
After Gallatin forced a Commando 3-and-out early, the Wave had all the momentum taking over at their 30-yard line.
On the series’ second snap, Hendersonville’s Logan Whisenant found himself on top of a loose football giving the Commandos excellent field position at the Green Wave 20. On the next play, a Gallatin chop block moved the football inside the five, then a Luke Manning shovel pass to Ellis put the Commands out in front 6-0.
Thomas Matchell finished 5-for-6 on extra points.
Fans thought they might be in for an all-time classic between these two rivals when the Green Wave marched their second possession down the field for a score.
Following a 29 yard pass from Dee Sullivan to Caden Cardoza and a Zach Johnson 17 yard rush to the 1-yard line, Za’Kayian Brinkley plunged himself into the end zone for the score. Kicker Ashton Kelley knocked home the PAT, tying the contest at 7-7.
From there, it was all Hendersonville as the Commandos scored 34 unanswered on big play after big play.
Baker put the Commandos up 14-7 on a 55-yard touchdown run, Ellis extended the lead to 21-7 on a 66-yard scamper, and Baker capped off a four play, 62-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown for the Commanding 28-7 lead at the break.
Baker scored his final touchdown just under six minutes, rushing in from seven yards out for the 35-7 advantage.
Forcing another Gallatin punt, Hendersonville drove 55 yards on eight plays before being capped off by a Donnell Brown 1-yard touchdown plunge and the 41-7 lead.
“We are improving,” Beasley said. “The main thing is we are building unity amongst ourselves. We want to build great character among our players, and if we continue to push that, then we will get the performances you saw tonight.”
Hendersonville will play host to Ravenwood next week while the Green Wave travels to Cookeville.
Torin Baker: 10 carries, 128 yards, 3 TDs
Ellis Ellis: 5 carries, 116 yards, 2 TDs
Noah Carmean: 4 carries, 26 yards
Jack Brown: 2 carries, 24 yards
Steven Mack: 1 carry, 7 yards
Luke Manning: 4 carries, 5 yards
Luke Maning 7/10, 52 yards, 1TD
Jack Busey: 3 catches, 35 yards
Ellis Ellis: 1 catch, 5 yards, 1 TD
Torin Baker: 1 catch, -4 yards
Jack Brown: 1 catch, 12 yards
Landon Barton: 1 catch, 4 yards
Bubba Carter: 7 carries, 37 yards
Zach Johnson: 6 carries, 28 yards
Za’Kyian Brinkley: 7 carries, 14 yards, 1 TD
Jaheim Merriweather: 6 carries, 16 yards
Dee Sullivan: 7 carries, 3 yards
Ben Brentise: 1 carry, 5 yards
Markelos Owens: 2 carries, 7 yards
Ladanian McMurray: 1 carry, 14 yards
Cash Boone: 1 carry, -5 yards
Dee Sullivan: 29 yards
Caden Cardoza: 1 catch, 29 yards