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Comeback keeps BHS on a roll

Trent Waters, Bearden junior linebacker (3), tackles Lenoir City quarterback Jordan Hall.- Alan Sloan/farragutpress
With Lenoir City leading 17-0 on Homecoming night at Bearden’s Bill Young Field, it was time for “somebody,” “anybody," maybe a number of “somebodies,” to step up and restore order.

Losing on Homecoming, with an open date looming, and the imposing specter of Maryville on the horizon, did not seem to be a palatable combination.

It took a while, well into the fourth quarter, for Bearden to gain the lead, yet when the game was in the record books, it was Bearden (4-1, 2-0) 21, Lenoir City (2-2, 1-1) 17, and all seemed right with the world.

Bearden had all kinds of problems in the kicking game: two first-quarter fumbles that didn’t directly cost points but cost field position, a bad snap on a punt that yielded a field goal, and a blocked field goal near the end of the first half.

“We struggled,” head coach Brad Taylor said, “but didn’t let it blow up on us. The defense bowed up and got it going. We knew it we would have to be all in for 48 minutes. The defensive line was much improved. If we keep working like we did this week, I’ll stop talking about our inexperience.”

Somehow, a resilient Bulldog defense kept the home team in contention until the offensive guys could catch up and get back in the game.

“It was my best game defensively,” defensive tackle Tyler White, a force up front all night, said. “I tried to use my quickness to my advantage. We had to keep fighting, battling in the trenches. I never thought I would play this well.

They did, and in a big way.

With 8:08 showing on the scoreboard, Josh Haney, who carried 32 times for 195 yards, lit the spark, returning the kickoff to the 37, then taking the first play to the Bearden 41. The nest play was typical Haney, who got into the secondary, had one Lenoir City to beat, and completed a 59-yard run to the southwest corner. That woke up the crowd.

Then Bearden, opportunistic as always, found a fumble, recovered gratefully by Ethan Pollack at the Lenoir City 39. Nicky Frizen found wideout Aaron Evans on a key third-and 11 for 16. It was third-and-13 when Frizen found Zack Messing for the touchdown.

Just like that, it was 17-14, and the Bulldogs, while still behind, were back in the game.

The Bulldogs lost a couple of major opportunities deep in Panther territory, but cranked up the game-winning drive after a Lenoir City punt stopped at the Bearden 1 like a brilliantly-played sand wedge. That was a bad omen.

All Bearden did was quickly march down the field, Frizen running for 35, emerging from the pack shockingly wide open. A personal foul added 15 more, and the good guys were in business. Haney carried for 11, 3 and 16, before Frizen hit Trent Waters for the go-ahead score at the 5:12 mark.

The Panthers had one last chance, but the Bulldog defense stiffened at the 34, and Pollack made the game’s biggest play, stopping a screen pass and giving Bearden the ball back. 

“We knew the screen was coming,” Pollack said of his key play, that he described as “one of his biggest… ever.” It was “nerve-racking,” he said.

“That’s no lie.”

With 2:42 left. The Bulldogs killed all but 19 seconds to finally get the game into the “W” column.



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