With a state championship appearance on the line, Mt. Juliet left it all on the field Friday against Whitehaven, but came up short 41-35.The win came a year after Whitehaven won in the semifinals 44-10 in Mt. Juliet.
Friday, the Bears fell behind 28-14 at the half, but kept battling in the second half, and tied it up late, 35-35. Whitehaven running back and Ole Miss commit Mark Dodson ripped off an 87-yard touchdown in the fourth to give the Tigers the lead for good. Mt. Juliet would get the ball back after a fumble with 2:25 to go, and got across midfield, but Whitehaven was able to get the stop.
“It was a good season,” said Mt. Juliet’s Contrez McCathern after the game. “It didn’t end the way we wanted it, but it was still very successful.”
Mt. Juliet was led by Caleb Hopkins and Contrez McCathern on the ground with Hopkins leading the attack rushing for 148 yards and three touchdowns.McCathern, who was dinged up a little bit, put in 98 rushing yards with two touchdowns respectively. Whitehaven was led by Dodson with 304 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries.
Both teams went back in fourth throughout the entire game with Whitehaven ripping off big play after big play and Mt. Juliet strategically chipping away at the defense and scoring almost at will. The first half ended at a two touchdown lead by Whitehaven 28-14, but an astounding two touchdowns beginning the third quarter put Mt. Juliet back in it. It started with Hopkins 1-yard rushing score and then a quick pooch kick that was recovered by the Bears left the Tigers surprised when Hopkins scored again to tie it up.
Dodson wheeled off another run for 56 yards, giving Whitehaven the lead again, but thanks to a 1-yard score by McCathern tied it up again. Dodson’s 87-yard score was the final of the night.
Whitehaven will play Maryville for the 6A State Championship Saturday in Cookeville.