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Rugged first half dooms Bearden at Sevier; home win earns FHS rematch

SEVIERVILLE — Bearden’s football success in 2006 has much more to do with enthusiastic effort than overwhelming size, speed or athletic ability. So said BHS head coach Bill Wilson, aggravated that a lack of enthusiastic effort left his team behind 35-0 at the half against the state’s No. 9-ranked Class 5A Sevier County Smoky Bears. It ended 42-21 at SCHS Friday, Oct. 20.

But that enthusiastic effort may get a serious jolt of adrenaline when Bulldog players dwell on who their opening round Class 5A playoff opponent would likely be — Farragut, winners of the last six games versus BHS.

However, “In the first half we really didn’t get an effort at all from our kids,” Wilson said. “I hadn’t seen this team play like this as a team all year long. ... What caused that? At this point I’d only be making excuses. ... The disposition of our kids is what concerns me.

“They just came out and whipped us ... they didn’t trick us. We got beat on the line of scrimmage.”

Junior quarterback Dawson Halliday added, “We weren’t focused on the way up here ... we didn’t come ready to play.”

The Bulldog skipper said he felt better about his team’s second-half three-touchdown rally. “We played a pretty good football game the second half,” Wilson said. “And they had their good kids in there, and we stopped their offense unbelievable, we blew them off the line.”

Wilson was most pleased with standout senior wide receiver Dontae Bunch, who caught nine passes for 133 yards that included a 22-yard touchdown pass from Halliday. All of Halliday’s completions (in 27 attempts) went to Bunche.

“Dontae Bunche finally broke out, we’ve been waiting for him to break out all year, and Dontae just gave us one heck of an effort tonight,” Wilson said.

With a 6-3 overall record, 3-2 in the region, Bearden will be a heavy favorite to beat Jefferson County Friday, Oct. 27, at BHS. A win not only secures third-place in the region, but ensures a first-round playoff game — and rematch of a 27-14 regular season loss — against archrival Farragut at FHS’s Bill Clabo Field Friday, Nov. 3.

Even a loss to JCHS would still leave Bearden traveling to FHS if the state’s top-ranked Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett Indians beat Science Hill as expected.


A 31-yard run by Torey Works, who caught fire in the second half and rushed for 153 yards on 22 carries for the game, sparked BHS’s first TD drive. Opening the second half, Bearden went 70 yards in seven plays ending with Halliday’ five-yard TD run.

Brandon Reagan was 3-of-3 on extra point attempts.

Two Bulldog possessions later, a nine-play, 90-yard scoring drive was highlighted by a 16-yard run by Works and 11-yard scamper from Halliday before Bunche’s 22-yard TD catch made it 35-14 on the last play of the third quarter.

Bunche catches of 10 and 12 yards helped set up a Works’ TD jaunt from three yards out late.

Defensively, BHS drastically increased its short-yardage and minus-yardage stops in the second half. Matt Williamson, Peter Shankles and Brandon Pemberton each had 10 total tackles to lead Bearden. Michael Lewis added nine. Alex Goltry led the way for BHS in minus yardage stops with three, while Williamson added three sacks.

“Their line is bigger, but we’re faster, and we just have to learn to use that better,” Shankles said.

Led by the arm and legs of standout senior quarterback Corey Watson, the Bears (8-2, 5-1) needed only two plays to score at the start. Trey Pippen turned a short pass into a 59-yard TD.

While the BHS passing game struggled in the first half, the Smokey Bears went 56 yards in nine plays to go up 14-0 featuring a 20-yard run and a 21-yard pass.

Watson returned a punt 37 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown and a 21-0 SCHS lead midway into the second quarter.

Sevier then went 59 yards in seven plays to score highlighted by Tyler Thomas’ 26-yard run. An SCHS interception sparked a four-play, 41-yard TD drive.


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