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Cashed-in turnovers push Bulldogs past Science Hill, 21-3


JOHNSON CITY — If there were any questions about how a youthful Bearden High squad might handle the trip to far-away Washington County to play a 4-1 Science Hill squad on Steve Spurrier Field, Bearden met the test with flying colors.

The Bulldogs (5-2, 2-1 in Region 1-5A) forced five turnovers and turned three of them into touchdowns en route to a 21-3 triumph in their most impressive performance to date. The Bulldogs spotted the Hilltoppers (4-2, 1-1) a 3-0 lead with 3:25 left in the first quarter, then absolutely played their hosts off their feet.

Head coach Brad Taylor was exceptionally impressed with his team’s performance.


“We played really well,” he said. “Other than Dobyns-Bennett and Farragut, that’s one of the most balanced teams we had seen. We had guys step up in a lot of different areas. They have a good defense and we were trying to be creative, be able to run the football. Our defense helped our offense a great deal.”

Dillon Walker led a relentless bunch of Bulldog defenders with eight solo tackles and an assist, three minus-yardage tackles and a fumble recovery.

As the game wore on, it became increasingly clear that Bearden’s goal line looked to be in another zip code, with nearly impenetrable hurdles marked in 5-yard increments.

Tanner Fine had a second quarter interception that gave the Bulldogs the ball on the Science Hill 9. Devrin Young, often running after a direct snap from center or behind what Taylor called the “Rino” look, carried three times, the third try for a 2-yard score. It was 7-3 with 7:47 left in the half.

“It makes it seem like there’s more misdirection than there really is,” Taylor said of the formation, with blockers massed at the point of attack. “It was effective at times.” For his part, Ryan Potter ran the offense capably and seemed to make the right calls at the right time.

“Our defense got a lot of turnovers,” Potter said. “This win gives us a lot of confidence. Young can always make something happen. He’s a difference-maker.”

There was a thought that the Bulldogs might regret not scoring again before the half, but cornerback Stefon Stevens stopped a Hilltopper drive early in the third quarter with an interception returned to the 27. A series later, Tull found a fumble at the 41-yard marker going in.

After Young, who had 83 yards on 21 carries, ran for six yards and Potter completed a pass to Tull for 10 yards, Young nearly scored from the 9, but the Bulldogs were detected holding, moving the ball back to the 23.

Adam Robertson hauled in a pass to the 11, and Potter found Tull deep in the left corner for a score that, with Brandon Reagan’s extra point, made it 14-3.

“It was the most complete defensive game we’ve played,” Tull said. “We knew we had to shut down their quarterback. He’s supposed to be their playmaker. It’s a good win.”

Two series later in the fourth quarter, Reagan lofted a punt from the Bearden 45 and high into the night skies. A fumble ensued, and Scott Carvin found the errant pigskin at the 17.

Young lost a yard, then broke the line of scrimmage and found the end zone from 18 yards out, making a couple of “now you see him, now you don’t” moves in the secondary, to close out the scoring.

“Our line gave him a good hole to work with and he did the rest,” Potter said. “His lateral speed is unreal.”

Next week, Friday, Oct. 10, brings a trip to Campbell County for another region game. Opening kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

 

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