Conlin Baggott runs for 116 yards --
SPRING HILL – Against a winless Spring Hill team, Mt. Juliet didn’t take control of Thursday’s nonregion road matchup as quickly as Trey Perry would have liked.
The Golden Bears did take control of the contest, though, scoring 18 points in the second quarter and coasting to a 43-6 victory to move to 5-2 on the season.
“What’s disappointing is, it’s a common theme: We haven’t started games very well,” Perry said after Mt. Juliet took advantage of a Spring Hill fumble for an early touchdown and added a safety for an 8-0 lead before giving up its first first-quarter points of the season on a Landen Secrest 65-yard interception return for a pick-6.
“Most disappointing is the mental lapses. The pick-6 wasn’t a smart play,” the coach said regarding quarterback Brice Messenger’s pass that was caught along the visiting sideline on the first play following the safety and a 17-yard Jamari Sowell return to the Raiders’ 40-yard line.
“As it gets colder, we’re going to have to play smarter football against the competition coming up, in order to keep playing football,” Perry warned.
Mt. Juliet settled in, though, behind a defense that forced a pair of turnovers and limited Spring Hill (0-7) to four first downs and 20 offensive yards – including a negative-22 yards on 18 rushing attempts.
Messenger, who put the Golden Bears on the scoreboard with his 2-yard sneak at the 5:17 mark of the opening period, came back from his interception and threw to Malik Bowen for a 26-yard score and a 15-6 lead three minutes into the second quarter.
From there, Mt. Juliet scored on its next five possessions, including a pair of Tyler Johnson field goals and rushing touchdowns by Devin Palmer and Conlin Baggott en route to its fourth straight win after a 1-2 start.
“We just don’t have the depth,” Spring Hill coach Ben Martin said. “Because of some injuries, we’re asking some kids to go both ways that don’t normally, and it took its toll.
“Hat’s off to Mt. Juliet. They’re a quality program. They did what they needed to do. We just didn’t execute.”
The visitors posted their final score, a 12-yarder from sophomore Tanner Cocke, with 4:38 remaining to extend the margin to 37 points and put the mercy-rule running clock in effect.
“Our program is tough. People work hard and a lot of times don’t get the opportunity to go out and play,” Perry said. “That’s something we were able to do. I know our seniors and I were so happy to see some of those guys get out there and play.”
Mt. Juliet, which did not attempt a pass in the second half, rolled up 346 yards of offense with Baggott rushing for 116 and a score on 22 carries. Bowen finished with three receptions for 50 yards, with Messenger throwing for 83 yards.
The Golden Bears face visiting Oak Ridge on Oct. 18, before closing the season with Region 4-6A matchups against Station Camp and at Hendersonville.