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U.S. Cellular ‘How the West Was Won’ title stays at FHS

Three second-half fumbles were a crushing blow to Bearden, then a 76-yard punt return from Farragut’s Jovon Miller pretty much broke the Bulldogs’ back early in the fourth quarter.

The Admirals’ 14-0 victory Friday night in Farragut Stadium marked the third straight season FHS has captured the U.S. Cellular “How the West Was Won” trophy with a win against its biggest rival.

As for Miller’s long punt return in a 7-0 game, “I just knew that I had to make something happen,” the talented junior said. “The whole team just had to step up, and together we stepped up as a team.”

Junior Nick Moore carried the final 14 yards to make it 14-0 Admirals with 10:09 to play.

Both Bearden head coach Paul Maynard and Farragut head coach Eddie Courtney agreed that Miller’s punt return was a back-breaker.

“It was, but it was something I was concerned with all week — the way the weather was we didn’t spend the time we normally spend on special teams, and that bothered me,” Courtney said. “But it all panned out. Jovon made a great catch, cut twice, and got down the sideline.”

Maynard said: “That punt return, that was the difference in the game.”

Farragut scored on its first possession of the game — a 57-yard, four-play drive ending with Michael Wright’s 8-yard TD run — and controlled the first 10 minutes of the first quarter. The first scoring drive featured a 27-yard Moore scamper and a 17-yard Wright carry.

But the Admirals had their second scoring drive stuffed on downs at the FHS 25 late in the first period thanks to a sack by BHS defensive end Jordan Maynard, who led Bearden with 10 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.

“That changed the momentum for the defense,” coach Maynard said.

Courtney praised Jordan Maynard’s play, referring to “that number one” (his jersey number) as being a constant defensive threat.

A late-first half drive by FHS was stopped when a 35-yard field goal was blocked by Brent Thompson.

That drive was the highlight of the game for Admiral senior quarterback Nick French, completing three of his four passes during the game on that drive for 38 yards of his game total of 54 (4 of 11 attempts). French also ran once on that drive for 15 yards.

Realizing they could have been further ahead than 7-0 at halftime, “we came into the locker room a little nervous,” junior linebacker Nick Reveiz said. “We knew we had to step it up, on the defensive side and the offensive side. I don’t really think there was really any anxiety.

“Defensively, we kept a cool head even when bad breaks came, and we stopped ’em.”

Bearden appeared to have seized momentum in the third quarter and was only two yards from tying the game when, on 1st-and-goal from the FHS 2, runningback Iiran Rogers fumbled after a bad exchange with BHS quarterback Eric Pickle. Admiral defensive tackle Tommy Lawhorn recovered with 1:36 left in the third frame.

“We had hit him (Rogers) pretty good a couple of time in that drive,” Courtney said.

Maynard simply said: “We self-destructed.”

It was the second straight Bulldog lost fumble inside the FHS 25. A Ward Houston pass interception and 27-yard return left Bearden at the Admiral 30. But Rogers’ first fumble, this one at the FHS 20, was recovered by Farragut’s Tyler Ladd with 8:09 left in the third quarter.

“The fumbles did kill us,” Pickle said. “We moved up and down the field pretty well today. It’s disappointing just because of the way we moved the ball. We moved the ball better than we ever did in our first two games. We were putting together drives starting at the twenty-yard-line all the way up. It’s certainly disappointing.”

Farragut junior linebacker Tony Manilla admitted that his team got “lucky on the (two)-yard-line,” Manilla said of the second BHS “red zone” fumble. “That was huge, that probably broke their backs right there.”

Though never denying the critical blow of losing those third-quarter fumbles, Maynard praised Rogers’ overall effort. “Iiran Rogers ran the ball well,” the coach said, as Rogers ended with 66 net yards on 18 carries. “He ran the ball hard.”

Though Maynard proclaimed, “we outplayed Farragut High School,” the BHS skipper quickly added that Farragut “played well, they’re well prepared, well coached. They did everything they needed to do to win it ... and we didn’t. We couldn’t do it when we needed to do it.”

According to the official BHS stat sheets, Farragut out gained Bearden in total net yards 245 to 213, though the Bulldogs ran nine more plays than Farragut (56 to 47).

Led by a stingy defense, the Bulldogs maintained control of field position into the early moments of the fourth quarter but were stopped offensively at the FHS 35 and punted.

Enter Miller, who took the punt at his own 10 and though he almost stumbled to the turf, the junior kept his footing, got a couple of blocks and made a couple of nifty moves down the left sideline.

Bearden made one last gasp drive, but the fumble bug bit again. Driving to the FHS 31 midway into the final frame, the Bulldogs gave it away yet again when Rico Goins fumbled and Reveiz recovered at the FHS 31 with 5:12 remaining.

Having also recovered a fumbled punt, defensive back Lee Travis put the victory on ice by intercepting a Pickle bomb down the left sideline with 1:33 remaining.

Though receiving good fortune thanks to the BHS fumbles, the Admirals’ linebacking duo of Reveiz and Court Courtney, and Lawhorn on the defensive front, were a three-man stone wall Friday night. Courtney and Reveiz each collected 15 total tackles, 11 of those solo from Reveiz, and three for minus yardage. Courtney had seven solo tackles.

Lawhorn pitched in 12 total stops, nine of those solo with three for minus yardage. “He turned his game up and really had a good game,” coach Courtney said of Lawhorn.

Outside linebacker Brian Tipton added nine tackles, including six solo.

“I was really pleased with the way the defense played,” said Courtney, who also doubles as defensive coordinator.

Pickle ended with seven completions in 15 attempts for 86 yards. Always a serious running threat whether off the option, quarterback draw on scrambling, Pickle ended up with 30 yards on 11 carries.

Defensively, three Bulldogs finished behind Maynard in tackles with seven each: Adam Canter, Nathan Hafley and Thompson. “Adam Canter played well,” coach Maynard said. Canter suffered a strained back muscle against FHS but shouldn’t miss any games according to coach Maynard.

Farragut stays perfect on the season record-wise at 4-0 record, 1-0 in Region 2-5A, heading into Friday’s home game against region rival McMinn County. Opening kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs, who remain winless at 0-3, will host Region 1-5A rival Karns Friday. Opening kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.


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