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Simple formula pushes No. 5 Bulldogs past LC

BHS kicker Ben Sisco also kicks up water versus LCHS as holder/quarterback Kyle Riemer watches an extra point.- Hobe Brunson/
The path to Bearden’s 35-7 win over Lenoir City Friday on the soggy turf of BHS’s Bill Young Field came directly from the old time playbooks, stretching to Gen. Bob Neyland, Amos Alonzo Stagg, and all the other coaches in the horse-and-buggy era of football, with leather helmets, no facemasks, and teams slugging it out in the trenches.

The formula was simple.

Win the kicking game, score when you get the chance, and don’t beat yourself with turnovers. Bearden, AP No. 5-ranked statewide in Class 6A, did exactly that and goes to 5-0, 2-0 in District 4-AAA. Lenoir City falls to 1-3, 0-2.

Bad weather in West Knoxville moved kickoff back 15 minutes, but the Bulldog defenders and special teams were a particular highlight despite the later start.

Cisco Carter knocked four of his six kickoffs into or through the end zone. Those that were returned could only reach the 10- and 11-yard line. Michael Cakmes was a special terror on special teams, making two kickoff tackles.

Dillon Wilker had eight tackles, three for losses, while Logan Candela had five.

“Our punt team and defense played really well,“ BHS head coach Brad Taylor said. “We were solid and took care of the football. We held them inside the 20 every time Carter didn’t get it in the end zone. We have guys flying down the field, making plays.”

Carter added to his kicking repertoire with a punt downed at the 1 in the second quarter. Calvin Burrell caused a fumble that gave the Bulldogs possession one yard from pay dirt, and Devrin Young, who carried 17 times for 82 hard-earned yards, immediately got the game’s first score. Ben Sisco converted the first of five extra points.

Young got his second score later in the period after the Bulldogs gained possession at the Lenoir City 49. Young carried six times for 29 yards and scored from the 6.

Lenoir City got a late score to cut the halftime margin to seven points, but the Bulldogs got things going again after intermission.

On the Bulldogs’ second possession, they faced second-and-6 from the Lenoir City 42 after some more excellent work in the kicking game and a resolute defensive effort.

Landers took a handoff up the middle and found nothing but soggy turf in front of him for the Bulldogs’ third touchdown.

Another scoring drive spanning the third and fourth quarters started at the Lenoir City 46. Michael Williams had a 14-yard run, while Landers added a 10-yarder. After C.J. Terry ran hard and had one solid run erased by a penalty, Kyle Riemer found Stephon Stephens in the right corner for another score. It covered 18 yards and marked his first career touchdown.

“When he called the play, I wasn’t sure he was going to throw to me,” Stephens said. “When I saw the ball go up, I knew I had to go get it. I had to get up on the man and break out.”

The Bulldogs accelerated the defensive pressure on the ensuing drive and, after a bad snap from center on a Lenoir City punt, got the ball again at the 1. Terry earned the final six points that established the final margin.

“We played our game, did what we do, and it came out good for us,” linebacker Drew Williamson said. “They’re definitely a quick team, and we knew that.”

An open date is next before a huge challenge at Maryville Oct. 2. Opening kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
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