Bears mark 11th straight win over WCHS --
Mt. Juliet lost its first game of the season, had its best player injured in that game, changed its offense during its bye week and was coming off a shutout loss in its home opener to face undefeated Wilson Central Friday.
In the first half alone, the Golden Bears nearly blew a two-touchdown lead by racking up 70 yards in penalties and allowing a safety.
Despite all of that adversity, by the time the crowd left Elzie Patton Stadium, Mt. Juliet had moved into first place in Region 4-6A with a 42-17 victory over Wilson Central.
The Golden Bears (2-2, 2-0) are the only team in the six-team region to have won its first two region games.
Lebanon, which lost 24-7 to Mt. Juliet three weeks ago, helped the Golden Bears by beating Hendersonville 21-20.
Mt. Juliet plays Rossview and Station Camp (combined 1-3 in the region) at home and plays at Hendersonville in the final game of the regular season.
Jamari Sowell scored Mt. Juliet’s first touchdown, scooping up a fumbled snap on a punt and running 9 yards to the end zone midway through the first quarter.
Wilson Central (4-1, 1-1), which hasn’t defeated Mt. Juliet since 2008, scored 10 points in five minutes to cut the Golden Bears lead to four points midway through the second quarter.
Following a 50-yard punt that was downed at the 1, the Wildcats made a tackle in the end zone for a safety in the first minute of the second quarter.
Five minutes later, Corben Blount set up the Wildcats at the Mt. Juliet 28 with a 42-yard interception return.
Two plays later, Zavier Ali had a 2-yard run for a touchdown. A two-point conversion pass had Wilson Central trailing 14-10 with six minutes until halftime.
Mt. Juliet responded with 14 points in 20 seconds late in the second quarter.
Powell caught a short pass and ran 22 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Two plays after the kickoff, Malik Bowen intercepted a pass and sprinted 25 yards to the end zone without being touched.
Bowen, the Golden Bears top receiver who has committed to Duke, was playing defense for the first time since being injured in the season opener. He caught two passes for 42 yards, played on the punt coverage team and was the holder for extra points.
“The offensive linemen just gave up chasing me on the interception because they didn't think it was an interception,” Bowen said.
“I played a lot of plays but our conditioning coach (Curtis Grah) really got us ready to play a lot.”
Sowell, who caught two passes for 28 yards, said that Bowen blocked the cornerback to give him a clear path to the end zone on the touchdown pass, the same play that delivered a touchdown against Lebanon.
Conlin Baggott led the Golden Bears with 160 yards rushing on 18 carries, including a 37-yard run for Mt. Juliet’s final touchdown.
Devin Palmer rushed four times for 23 yards and turned a catch on a screen pass into a 64-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Both teams showed a good bit of sloppiness, combining for seven turnovers and 19 penalties for 175 yards.
The Golden Bears lost a fumble in each half and had 70 penalty yards before intermission.
“We have got to quit making things interesting with turnovers, penalties too,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said.
Wilson Central lost three of six fumbles and an illegal block penalty took a 95-yard kickoff return off the scoreboard.
Earlier in the week, Wildcats coach Brad Dedman said that turnovers would go a long way in determining the winner of the game.
“We gave them 14 points off turnovers which gave them a lot of momentum,” said Dedman, who was the defensive coordinator of the Wildcats’ 2008 team.
Wilson Central finished with 85 yards rushing on 35 carries.
Mt. Juliet recorded five sacks and had seven other tackles for loss. Ali rushed for 24 yards and caught a pass. CJ Hatchett led the Wildcats in rushing with six carries for 43 yards.
“We knew that running the football would be tough tonight,” Dedman said. “We ran the ball well in the first four games but not tonight. Mt. Juliet had a lot to do with that.”
Wilson Central had some success throwing the ball. Tristan Lewis completed 13-of-20 passes for 129 yards. Jared Lawrence had seven catches for 42 yards. Lewis and Lawrence also hooked up for a 2-point conversion.
Mt. Juliet will have its Homecoming game against Maplewood Friday, Sept. 27.
Wilson Central steps out of Region 4-6A to host unbeaten Gallatin Friday and then plays at Hendersonville Oct. 4.