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Young’s 82-yard punt return keys BHS homecoming win vs. Halls, 17-12

Sometimes the difference in a game between a 3-2 team and a 2-3 team can be almost imperceptible. The winning team often makes something happen in the kicking game with one or two difference-makers and makes the requisite plays otherwise.

Bearden (4-2) and Halls (2-4) played such a game Friday night in a steady drizzle on BHS’s Bill Young Field, with the Bulldogs earning a 17-12 homecoming victory that went down to the final horn.

“It was a heck of a game,” head coach Brad Taylor said. “They’re a good football team. They did a good job of taking away the run. I feel

very fortunate.”

With Halls out of timeouts, Bearden ran three plays in the final 2:11 from the “victory formation,” before giving up a safety with 1.1 seconds to go. Halls received the ensuing kickoff and tossed the ball around on the far sideline, hoping for a miracle score. Drew Williamson made the final stop to seal the deal.

“Their offense was tough to read. You have to study film the whole week,” Williamson said. “You have to read the lineman instead of the running backs.”

There were key kicking game contributions by Devrin Young and kicker Brandon Reagan. Young had a punt return for a score that turned momentum back in the Bulldogs’ favor, and Reagan had a field goal and two extra points, despite the adverse weather conditions. He also had two punts downed inside the 10.

“Kicking into the wind was hard,” Reagan said. “I had a couple of slow kicks. That’s why one got blocked. The field goal was with the wind, and I have to give credit to my line, my snapper, and my holder.”

Bearden had two drives of more than five minutes in the first half yielding no points, scoring only on a 16-yard run by Young, a play after Adam Robertson corralled an interception off the tip drill at the Halls 16.

Bearden looked to be dominating matters until Young fumbled, and the Red Devils got it at the Bulldog 39 just before the half.

Quarterback Tyler Turner found wideout Garrett Gresham down the right side for 36 yards to the Bearden 3, and tailback Kevin Waggoner scored on the next play. It was 7-7 at the half, and things seemed to be moving in Halls’ favor.

Then came two big plays early in the third quarter. It was third-and-1 at the Halls 44 when Tanner Fine made a key stop on Corey Fitzpatrick for a loss of two yards. Turner’s punt went to the 18 where Young took it in, found a hole to his left, and sprinted down the left sideline for 82 yards and the touchdown, making it 14-7.

Starting at the 46 after a 42-yard kickoff return by James O’Loughlin, the Red Devils moved down the field in 5:11 in hopes of tying the score. A 30-yard toss from Turner to Chad Bright got it close, but Robertson and Davis Tull made the key stop, a sack that took away 10 yards and forced a 36-yard field goal, making it 14-10.

Reagan added a field goal in the fourth period, set up in part by a 29-yard run by Young.

Michael Williams made the final big play, intercepting a Zach Dowdy aerial to set up the final effort to kill the clock.

The win sets up a trip to Johnson City versus Science Hill next week, where the maturity of a young team will be tested. The game against the Hilltopppers starts a string of four Region 1-5A games, three on the road. Opening kickoff is 7:30 p.m.


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