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Dawgs use defense, big plays to slip past rival West, 14-6

Rivalry games are like this. You can throw out the record book and realize nothing is going to come easy.

Bearden (2-0), seemingly cruising to a 14-0 victory, had to recover an onsides kick with 1:24 left in the game to secure a 14-6 win versus neighborhood rival West (0-2) at WHS’s Bill Wilson Field Friday night. West was obviously anxious to put a 38-7 loss to Farragut a week ago behind it and fought the Bulldogs every play all night.

Bearden head coach Brad Taylor seemed glad to have the game behind his team.

“It’s a big rivalry game,” he said. “I thought we had some opportunities we didn’t capitalize on. I don’t think we played our best, but a lot of it has to do with how good they played defensively.”

Bearden had huffed and puffed its way to a 7-0 halftime lead on the basis of a four-yard touchdown pass on fourth down from Ryan Potter to Tanner Fine with 4:04 to go in the first half.

Taylor disdained the field goal and went for it all. Potter rolled right and found Fine for the score, the first of his career.

“It was actually a busted play,” Fine said. “Our tight end didn’t go into motion, and I just made the best of it. I got open in the end zone, and our quarterback found me.”

Both offenses were unable to move the ball consistently, picking up grass stains, and little else.

“It was a good defensive battle,” Adam Robertson, one of the toughest of the Bulldog defenders, said. “The offense they run is hard to practice for, but our scout team did a great job. We’re heated rivals, and I knew they’d be up for it.”

Some good work in the return game set up a quick score on Bearden’s second possession of the third quarter. Devrin Young, who seems to be able to break a long run at any moment and had 18 carries for 136 yards, fielded a Tanner Thompson punt on a bounce at the 20 and got back to the Bearden 40. After a pass to Fine for six yards, Young quickly put a touchdown on the board from 54 yards out.

He took a pitch left, cut outside, got a couple of key blocks, and found clear sailing down the sideline in front of the Bearden bench, making one defender miss badly in the open field. His score and the second of Brandon Reagan’s extra points made it 14-0 with 5:18 to go.

“He has a lot of big play potential,” Taylor said. “He’s still realizing that. He’s a sophomore. We’re expecting great things from him.”

That lead looked secure until a last-minute Rebel rally, keyed by a 24-yard scoring toss from Christian Francis to Stephen Gyebison, got the attention of everybody on both sides. It helped that the Bulldogs blocked the extra point try to make the score 14-6.

The clock read 1:24. A Bearden recovery of the expected onsides kick would seal the deal.

Drew Williamson, who called fielding the final onsides kick an “intimidating” experience, got the ball, dodging West kicker Thompson just enough to make the recovery. That made everyone on the Bearden side breathe much easier.

“You know you have to get the job done,” Williamson said. “My job is to stand on the 10-yard line, wait for it to go 10 yards, and fall on it. I was lucky enough to get there before he did. We practice that every day.”

Bearden plays its first Region 1-5A game next Friday when Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett comes to BHS’s Bill Young Field. Opening kick-off is 7:30 p.m.


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