SHACKLE ISLAND-- For the last two years the Mt. Juliet football team has come up just short to Beech, falling in double overtime, and in the process, losing the district championship. But the Bears didnt leave anything to question Thursday night in their 49-25 win over the Buccaneers.
After losing twice to them the past two years in double overtime this was a good win, and it was good not to have the game go down to the wire, said Mt. Juliet Coach Roger Perry. I still dont think weve played a complete game because there are things we couldve done better, but we did what we needed in order to get the win tonight over a good Beech team.
Beech Coach Anthony Crabtree said his Buccaneers were outmatched Thursday night by the Bears, and while he knew they had a good offense he was surprised by one aspect of the game.
They simply outplayed us tonight without a doubt, said Beech Coach Anthony Crabtree. We knew coming in that (Mt. Juliet) had an explosive offense, but what we didnt expect was (Contrez McCathern) to just dominate the way he did tonight.
McCathern finished the game with 155 yards on 20 carries, and added two touchdowns, but he wasnt the only Bear that did damage to the Buccaneers Thursday night, Caleb Hopkins also had 138 yards on just four carries, and had three touchdowns of his own in the win.
This was our biggest win of the season, said Hopkins. I felt like we had something to prove out here tonight, and I think we did that.
It felt pretty good because we felt like we owed (Beech) something after the last two years.
Beech (3-2, 2-1 9-AAA) got the opening kickoff and Jalen Hurd took it 54 yards to the Bears 43 yard line, but the Buccaneers only managed three yards on the next three downs and were forced to punt.
Mt. Juliet (5-0, 3-0) didnt waste anytime getting on the board, going 86 yards on six plays, capped by a 51 yard touchdown run by Hopkins to make it 7-0.
The Buccaneers next drive was over before it really got started as Keenan Harris broke through the line on the fourth play of the series, and hit Beech quarterback Lincoln Kenitzer as he was handing the ball off, forcing the fumble, and then Harris was able to gather the loose ball to give the Bears the ball on the Buccaneer 25 yard line.
It only took two plays for Mt. Juliet to get back into the endzone as Jalen Graham went off tackle and across the goal line untouched to make it 14-0 with 5:43 left in the opening quarter.
Beech finally got on the board in the second quarter when the Buccaneers put together an eight play drive that encompassed 49 yards as Kenitzer took it the final 10 yards on a broken play up the middle, but Kyle Grace blocked the extra point to make it 14-6 with 6:50 left in the half.
Mt. Juliets potent offense struck again on the ensuing drive that started at its own 23 yard line when Hopkins took it 70 yards around the right end and outraced the entire Beech backfield to put the Bears up 21-6.
After forcing the Buccaneers third punt of the half, Mt. Juliet went 37 yards on four plays, the final play, a 13 yard touchdown by McCathern, put the Bears up 28-6 with just over two minutes left in the second quarter.
Unfazed, Beech went right back to work and went 65 yards on six plays, capped by Hurds 27 yard ramble into the endzone, but the two point attempt was no good leaving the Buccaneers with a 28-12 deficit at the halftime break.
Mt. Juliet picked up where it left off in the first half on the opening kickoff of the second half when Graham took the kick 71 yards into pay dirt, and then added the two point conversion, going around the left end untouched to put the Bears up 36-12 just 17 seconds into the second half.
Beech answered on the ensuing series, going 47 yards on five plays as Hurd added his second touchdown of the game with a 27 yard ramble into the endzone.
Mt. Juliets Graham appeared to score on the opening play of the next series, going 53 yard into the endzone, but a block in the back brought the ball back to the Beech 17 yard line.
The Bears also had two more penalties after the block in the back, but the penalties only delayed the inevitable as Hopkins took it the final 11 yard three plays later to put Mt. Juliet up 43-19.
Two series later Hurd added his third score of the night, capping an eight play, 52 yard drive, but the Buccaneers were unable to convert the two point conversion, making it 43-25.
Mt. Juliet added another score late in the fourth quarter when McCathern did the heavy lifting all by himself, running for 15, 4, and then the final 18 yards for the score to put the Bears up 49-25.
They did everything they could to put 50 (points) on us, never calling off the dogs because they kept their starters in the whole game, but we cant complain about it, said Crabtree. Its not their job to take their guys out, its our job to stop them, and everyone saw the result.
This was a bad loss, and it was frustrating, but what made it worse was we were on television for the whole world to see. Now, were going to have to put this behind us, learn from it, and go back to work for next week because were still in the district race; we just have to regroup.
Mt. Juliet has the week off next Friday, and then will take on Gallatin September 30.
By CHRIS LYNN, Main Street Media