No. 1 Oakland Patriots continued on a road to a to defend its 6A state title with a 24-14 home win over the Mt. Juliet Golden Bears Friday night.
Mt. Juliet led 7-3 midway through the third quarter, putting the Patriots in unfamiliar territory. The Patriots, however, responded with 21 unanswered.
“I don’t know that we’ve been behind all year but it may have been exactly what we needed,” Oakland coach Kevin Creasy said. “At some point our guys have gotten a little complacent, and that falls on the head coach. This is going to do us better than anything I can say or do in practice.
“We had a lot of respect for Mt. Juliet going in. We played a tough game with them last year and knew it was going to be equally as tough this year. Our guys showed some grit and I’m glad we came out of that situation.”
It was a defensive battle through most of the game, with neither team finding the end zone in the first half and Oakland carrying a 3-0 lead into the locker room on a 22-yard field goal by Trey Turk.
The first touchdown of the game came with 5:13 left in the third on a 68-yard touchdown by Mt. Juliet freshman quarterback Griffin Throneberry, giving the Bears the 7-3 lead.
“I don’t consider myself a freshman, just a football player who loves to play ball,” Throneberry said. “We were just trying to get them to the fourth quarter. They played good and we didn’t really finish well. We finished (the season) in better shape than we started. We didn’t start very good and had to put up a fight.”
Unfortunately for Mt. Juliet, that was all the spark the Patriots needed. Oakland went to a hurry-up Wildcat package and quickly answered with a 1-yard score by Victor Stephenson.
“We love that we can have not only two quarterbacks on the field but also go no-huddle with it,” Creasy said. “They were subbing in and out and we wanted to keep those tired guys on the field and maybe catch them with 12 or 13 on the field.”
After a three-and-out for the Bears, Jordan Brown took the first play from scrimmage for a 51-yard touchdown to push the Patriot lead to 17-7. Brown finished with 200 yards on the ground and added another 20 receiving.
Oakland quickly regained possession and Stephenson got his second touchdown of the night out of the Wildcat, giving the Patriots a 24-7 lead with just minutes left.
Mt. Juliet scored one more time as Throneberry got to show off his arm a bit, going 5-of-8 on the final drive, capped by a 10-yard touchdown strike to Tayshaun Thompson make the final a little more respectable.
The Patriots play host to a familiar face next week in a rematch with region and crosstown foe Blackman.