Mt. Juliet went toe to toe with defending 5A State Champion Beech Friday, but came up short in a 35-24 loss.
The Bears led 24-21 going into the fourth quarter, but Beech was able to pick up two touchdowns to come away with the win.
Beech and Mt. Juliet went back and forth in the first half. Mt. Juliet struck first, as a 53-yard run by Kyle Smith set them up with a first and goal. Ben Cheatham went in for the six yard score to put the Bears up 7-0.
Beech answered behind 60-yard, 7-play drive. Dorian Carter scored from nine yards out to tie the game up.
A Beech interception set them up at the Bears 19-yard line, and four plays later Carter scored again, this time from five yards out to make it 14-7.
Mt. Juliet punched back as Smith got another big run, this time for 41 yards to set them up once again with a first-and-goal. Smith eventually punched it in from 12 yards out to tie the game up.
A bobbled snap on a Mt. Juliet punt attempt set Beech up in at the 15-yard line, but Mt. Juliet’s defense came up with a big stop. Jacob Daniel bust through the line on two straight plays for tackles for loss, and that was followed by a false start and two incompletions to turn the ball over. Mt. Juliet took advantage as runs by Courtland Douglas, Kyle Mahler and Smith moved them down the field. A pass from Alex Landis to Logan Hyder pushed the Bears down to the 16-yard line and Garrett Zickgraf was able to put a field goal through the uprights with five seconds remaining to give Mt. Juliet the 17-14 lead going into the break.
Beech took the lead back on the first drive of the second half going 64 yards on 14 plays. They converted a 4th-and-goal on a quarterback bootleg run in by Parker Henry.
The Bears came right back again as Jordan Hooper was the man with the big run, as he scampered 33 yards. Mahler eventually got the score from nine yards to pull back ahead 24-21.
Beech pulled together another 14-play drive that included a conversion on 4th-and-15 when the punter Henry avoided Bear player trying to block the punt and took off running for 19 yards. Kourtney Hawkins got the score to make it 28-24 Buccaneers.
Mt. Juliet was unable to pick up a first down on their next drive and had to punt it back to Beech. The Buccaneers put together another long drive to pick up another score and ice the game.
Smith led the Bears with 148 yards on 12 carries.
Mt. Juliet is back at home Friday as they take on Hendersonville. Kickoff is 7 p.m.