By ZACK OWENSBY
WATERTOWN -- There wasn’t much stopping Watertown Friday night as the Tigers rolled big against Region 4, 1A rival Mt. Juliet Christian 49-6 at Robinson Stadium.
Not only is this the last time for seniors on both sides to face off against each other, it may likely be the last time the schools play each other at all, at least for the foreseeable future.
MJCA’s loss comes on the heels of the school’s announcement that they will be moving to Division II effective next school year, citing a desire to be able to provide financial aid to students involved in athletics.
MJCA is joining the ranks of Donelson Christian Academy, Franklin Road Academy, Ezell Harding, Davidson Academy and Rutherford County’s Lancaster Christian for all sports.
Watertown Coach Gavin Webster said his team’s performance is the product of a team that is starting to click after healing its wounds from a shaky early season start.
For the second week in a row, junior QB Dalton Phillips took control, throwing for four touchdown passes and running in a fifth.
"It started last week," Webster said after the game, "that Dalton finally started playing the way we knew he could play. He’s finally playing with confidence. He’s calm in the pocket, and he’s keeping his poise. After he started the season kind of slow, he came out last week and played extremely well, and he did it again tonight."
Phillips first put the Purple Tigers on the board at the 9:49 mark of the first quarter when he found senior Ethan Patterson who broke a tackle and dashed 46 yards to house for an early 7-0 lead.
Mt. Juliet Christian muffed the ensuing kickoff and Watertown’s Cody Christian recovered on the MJCA 15. The Saints held Watertown to a field goal attempt that was blocked, about the only bright spot for the night for Mt. Juliet Christian.
"We came out flat, not ready to play tonight," MJCA coach Paul Townshend said, "and we picked a terrible time to come out like that, against a team like that."
Townshend also labeled his team’s effort as being "a step slow" and "unfocused," adding he was disappointed with the effort, to say the least.
"It was like a bad cold, and we all had it. Every problem goes back to that. We were not ready to play tonight."
Phillips found Patterson again before the first quarter ended, this time for 26 yards to up the lead to 14-0. He found senior Blaze Eaton from 3 yards out
A de-cleating block by Patterson freed Eaton to dive just short of the goal line, setting up Phillips’ 1-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 28-0.
Eaton hauled in another pass from Phillips, this one for 46 yards, engaging the contact with two Saints’ defenders and then running them over, to send Watertown into the half with a cushy 35-0 lead.
Phillips ended his night with a 6-yard pass to Adam Martin for his fourth passing TD of the night. He finished 13/18 for 128 yards and the four TDs, also rushing five times for 26 yards and a score.
Although he didn’t score, junior back Dylan Holycross ate the Saints’ defense up for 127 yards on 10 carries.
The Purple Tigers racked up 319 yards on the ground versus MJCA’s 8. Watertown’s Dustin Murphy and Zach Dodd combined for more than 90 yards on the ground. Eaton added 68 yards on his own four carries.
"Now we have to prepare for a big stretch for us," Webster said. "We have some big region games ahead of us that we need to win," to get back in the playoff picture.
Watertown (3-4, 2-2) goes to Red Boiling Springs, Gordonsville, then hosts Monterey, while MJCA (2-5, 1-3) will travel to region leader Trousdale County before hosting Clay County and Friendship Christian.