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Bulldogs secure rematch with rout


For Jefferson County’s Patriots (3-7, 1-5), their short-lived “comeback” began with nine first-half seconds left as Pats’ quarterback Spencer Gatlin hit wide receiver Tyler Stepp with a screen pass. That set up David Hendricksen’s field goal as the half ended.

That kick was pretty much the game highlight for an outmanned Pats team whose running backs spent two hours rolling in mud, only to lose convincingly 34-3 Friday, Oct. 27, to Bearden’s playoffs-bound Bulldogs at BHS.

By the intermission, the Bulldogs (7-3, 4-2 in Region 1-5A), were also muddy and soaked by showers, but they had run up a commanding 21-3 halftime lead.

In the second half, the aggressive Bulldogs, mostly on their agile running, extended their winning edge, while torrential rains eroded the Pats’ last, dim hopes for a season-ending conference upset of BHS.

Early in the second half, lightning was visible near enough to the stadium that officials cleared the playing field, ordered fans from the stands and declared a 35-minute weather delay.

By then, a solid offense and impenetrable defense had ensured Bearden of its Nov. 3 rematch with cross-town rival Farragut in the first round of TSSAA’s 2006 playoffs.

By kickoff Friday, Bearden’s field already had become a quagmire after a day-long deluge had dampened BHS Senior Night festivities.

Tough tackling by Alex Goltry and his teammates resulted in a Pats punt from their own 38.

A rain-slick football led BHS junior quarterback Dawson Halliday mostly to forsake passing for a ground game that featured nimble runs by workhorse Torey Works and Sean Cunningham.

Halliday then launched a 52-yard pass play to receiver Zack Jackson whose agility left the Pats’ secondary flatfooted. Jackson scored impressively with 7:27 left in the quarter.

As heavy rains returned, Halliday and Works combined quickly for a 53-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 14-0 after Brandon Reagan’s PAT.

Brandon Wyrick did a fine job on kickoffs that kept JCHS mostly bottled up on their end of the field.

Brandon Sapp, Matt Williamson and Danne Blocksma added key tackles in the first half.

By the end of the first quarter, BHS’s Works already had compiled 97 yard rushing by the time Halliday completed a key pass to receiver Aaron Gray.

Early in the second quarter, the Pats threw Halliday for an 11-yard loss; but Works, on the next two plays, hurdled over tacklers and churned through mud to move the ball from the Pats’ 30 to the 5. Halliday, facing fourth-and-goal, pulled down a would-be pass and scampered around right end for a TD that made the Bulldog lead 21-0, after Reagan’s PAT, with 7:52 left in the half.

Bearden’s Peter Melloy pounced on a first-half fumble.

Bulldog defense stiffened on a Pats’ drive behind excellent tackling by Darius Dubose and Blocksma. Quarterback sacks were registered first by Blocksma, then by Matt Williamson. The Pats punted to the Bulldog 22, but with one minute left, Halliday could get nothing going, and the Pats then kicked their lone field goal.

Halliday, wet but rested, connected with Cunningham on a series of sparkling runs that put the Bulldogs, first-and-goal, at the Pats’ 2 early in the second half.

Distant lightning, however, cleared the stadium and delayed play while officials scanned stormy skies for signs of a letup.

Once play resumed, Halliday wasted no time sneaking in for a TD. The Pats blocked the PAT, however, to keep Bearden’s edge at 27-3.

But the Pats’ luck ended when Sean Cunningham, with 9:57 left, recovered McFall’s fumble to seal the Patriots’ fate.

Bearden running back Brandon Pemberton then took over, breaking Pats tackles on a series of churning runs that quickly moved the Bulldogs half the field’s length for one final score at 6:50. Reagan kicked the lead to 34-3.

Bulldogs Coach Bill Wilson then began substituting freely as sophomore quarterback Ryan Potter called signals, and running backs Norman Reeves and Charley Park ran the ball.

Wilson was pleased, he said, the see the Bulldogs strike quickly to get up points early and take a strong lead to the locker room.

“By that time,” Wilson said, “We were pretty much ready to go back into the house. But you’ve got to play the whole game.”

Wilson was “not too concerned,” he said, about his team’s ability to maintain early momentum after Friday’s 35-minute delay for lightning. He noted the Bulldogs returned to the field with excellent field position which Halliday easily converted into points.

“This week, these kids rose to the occasion,” Wilson said. And he said he was pleased with the win that has lifted the Bulldogs to a 7-3 regular season record. Last season, Bearden finished 5-6 and was outscored by opponents, 208-189.

The Bulldogs, in Friday’s game, rolled up 340 yards of total offense to the Pats’ 146. Each team rushed on 35 plays, but the Bulldogs had 261 yards rushing to JCHS’s 74.

Halliday completed three of his 10 passes for 79 yards while Gatlin hit on six of his 15 passes for 72 yards passing. The Pats lost all three of their fumbles, while Bearden protected the ball and had no turnovers. Bearden’s two penalties cost them just 15 yards. JCHS was penalized four times for a total 25 yards lost.

Reagan averaged 30 yards on two punts.

Works led rushers with nine carries for 133 yards and a touchdown. Pemberton rolled up 74 yards on four carries, and Cunningham totaled 58 yards on 10 carries.

Defensively, Matt Williamson posted seven tackles and one assist, including two quarterback sacks and three other tackles for negative yardage. Jackson also made seven tackles with one assist.

Wilson said the Bulldogs playoffs “road” game against Farragut, coming a few weeks after a 27-14 loss Sept. 8 at FHS, would not be easy. But he said it would help Bearden’s chances that Bulldog fans, the band and other spirit groups could easily attend.

“Last time,” Wilson said, “we played well enough the first half to have won, but we didn’t play so well that second half. This time, if our kids go there to play, I think they should be ready.”

 

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