By JOHN B. BRYAN
GORDONSVILLE — No. 5-ranked Friendship Christian leaned on special teams and big plays to knock off Region 4,1A rival Gordonsville 48-22 Friday at Turney Ford Field.
The victory sets up a long-awaited showdown between the 8-0 Commanders and undefeated Trousdale County October 24 in Lebanon.
FCS wasted no time setting the tone as junior John Markham returned the opening kick 77 yards to paydirt. Will Crockett’s PAT put FCS up 7-0.
After forcing a quick three and out, QB Lee Maasen streaked 73 yards to for a score — boosting the Commander lead to 14-0 with just three minutes gone in the first quarter.
"Our special teams play was really good and by scoring so quickly it kind of got us out of what we wanted to do offensively," said FCS coach John McNeal.
A mishandled punt kept a Tiger drive alive at the Friendship 34 and allowed the G-Men to cut the FCS lead to 14-6 after a missed extra point attempt.
"We had great field position and made some big plays so our offense stayed on the sideline most of the first half," McNeal said.
The FCS offense only had 12 plays in the first half, but still managed to go in to intermission with a comfortable 28-6 lead.
After Maasen hit Chris Hall on a 67 yard bomb for a touchdown, FCS defensive lineman Sam Wilkinson made a key interception on Gordonsville’s next possession giving the Commanders a short field at the Tiger 25 yard line.
Three plays later Dylan Boyd scored the first of his three TDs from five yards out and Crockett’s extra point made it a comfortable lead at intermission.
The second half was all Friendship with the Commanders putting up 20 points in the third quarter and another big special team play by Payton Alsup when he returned a Tiger punt 67 yards for a touchdown.
The punt return for a score would have been Alsup’s second on the night — but an 80 yard return in the first quarter was negated on a penalty.
The Commanders ended up with 336 yards of offense while allowing the Tigers 315. Maasen led FCS with 114 yards rushing. He went 6-of-9 through the air for 137 yards and a touchdown.
Boyd scored three times for FCS on runs of seven, six and 26 yards.
Trousdale County, a 66-12 winner last night over Mt. Juliet Christian, visits Lebanon Oct. 24 with the lead in Region 4, 1A on the line.