MT. JULIET - Spencer Briggs carried the ball a season-high 34 times Friday night at Mt. Juliet, but it was the running back’s 12th rushing attempt that the Gallatin football may use as a springboard to a special season.
The Class 5A Green Wave remained undefeated with a 7-0 victory over Class 6A Mt. Juliet in their first road game of the season. The only score of the game came on Briggs’ 50-yard run down the sideline for a touchdown with 4:29 left in the second quarter.
It was only the second loss in the past 30 regular-season games for Mt. Juliet (1-2), both of them this season. Gallatin (4-0) has outscored its opponents 134-21 this season with two shutouts. Mt. Juliet has scored 38 points and allowed 33 in three games.
Briggs finished the game with 184 yards despite gaining 16 yards on his first nine carries. Twenty-seven of his carries were for 5 yards or less. In three games prior to playing Mt. Juliet he had rushed for 734 yards.
“That touchdown run was that little bit of momentum we needed,” said Briggs, who also threw a pass that was knocked down by a Mt. Juliet defensive back in the second quarter. “We knew their defensive line would be physical so we kept trying to bounce that play to the outside.”
Briggs has rushed for 918 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
Green Wave coach Chad Watson, whose team was 5-6 with a third consecutive first-round playoff loss last season, said he hopes his team remembers the intensity of the playoff-like atmosphere at Friday’s game for a long time.
“I knew it would be a very physical game and I just wanted one more point than them at the end,” said Watson, whose team lost to 6A quarterfinalist Mt. Juliet 49-3 last season. “I think this game sends a message to the state that we can win 5A. It was definitely a playoff atmosphere out here tonight.”
Gallatin forced the only turnover of the game when defensive end Trustyn Kemp recovered a fumble on the first play of the third quarter. The Golden Bears sacked Gallatin’s Isaiah Briscoe on third down to force the Green Wave to punt.
Mt. Juliet got the ball at its own 26 with 5:02 remaining in the game after a punt. The Golden Bears tried to convert a fourth-and-4 but the Gallatin defensive line recorded a sack.
“With our defense, we have a chance to get a shutout every game,” Watson said.
Watson said that three of his defensive players - linebacker James Mason and defensive ends Kemp and Anthony Branham each deserved a game ball for leading the shutout.
“I knew it was going to be a shutout this week in practice; I just wasn’t sure how much the offense would score,” said Mason, who was wearing a large gold chain given to the team’s defensive player of the game in the locker room.
Mt. Juliet had just six first downs — its first two came late in the first half after Briggs’ touchdown — and did not get past the Gallatin 30 yard line the entire game.
The Green Wave return home to play Hillwood in a region game next Friday.
GHS - 0 - 7 - 0 - 0 —7
MJHS - 0-0-0-0 — 0
GHS-Spencer Briggs 50 run (Trace Kelley kick)
First downs - GHS 11, MJ 6
Passing - GHS 2-6-0, 65 yards; MJ 4-14-0, 36 yards
Rushing - GHS 50-212; MJ 25-61
Fumbles - GHS 0-0; MJ 1-1
Punts - GHS 5-30.8; MJ - 7-35.1
Penalties - GHS 6-50; MJ 3-30
Rushing - GHS - Briggs 34-184; Briscoe 14-24; Yarbrough 1-0; Mason 1-4
Receiving - Yarbrough 1-13; Springer 1-52.