High school football officially returned to Mt. Juliet this past Friday night as the Middle Tennessee Heat took on the Western Kentucky Warriors.
These two teams play 8 man football. Because of their size, most players on these teams play on both sides of the ball. The Heat dressed 19 players while the Warriors only dressed 15 players. However, the Heat only had 13 players left at the end of the game as six players were injured during the game.
The Middle Tennessee Heat it is a local team made up of home schooled students who live in and around Mt. Juliet. They are part of the Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference (MTAC) which is an association of 28 smaller schools from across Tennessee and Kentucky that compete in 11 different sports.
The game started off with each team testing the other as neither team scored on their first two possessions, and each gave up a fumble. On the third play of their third drive, the Heat’s Hughston Kirpatrick found a hole and ripped off a 65 yard touchdown run. As often if the case, the Heat went for the 2-point conversion, and took an 8-0 lead with 7:11 to go in the first quarter.
The Warriors capitalized on the next two drives, taking advantage of a long run and a bad kick to take an 8-12 lead with 3:39 to go in the first.
Not wanting to fall behind, Kirpatrick took the following kickoff 78 yards to give the Heat a 16-12 lead which they kept into the second quarter. Kirpatrick wasn’t able to produce any more offense for the Heat after this as he sustained a concussion while playing on defense and was out the remainder of the game.
On the first play of the second quarter, quarterback Jackson Starling went 25 yards and gave the Heat a 22-12 lead. The teams swapped scores for the remainder of the quarter. Sterling connected with Ty Kolando (75 yards) and Michael Sterling (55 yards) along with Jamie Savley rushing a touchdown from 1 yard out. The Heat were able to keep the 10 point lead at halftime, with a score of 44-34.
The third quarter was all the Warriors as they found the end zone three times and the Heat were kept out of it, allowing the Warriors to take a 58-44 lead into the fourth quarter.
Although they were tired and banged up, the Heat had a little more fight left in them. With 10:47 to go in the game, Starling ran the ball in from 1 yard out and hit Matthew Stahl (who also had several onside kick recovers) for the 2-point conversion to bring the Heat within six points.
The Warriors were not going to give up as they scored on their next possession to stretch the lead to 66-52 with just over eight minutes to go.
Things were looking up for the Heat as Hunter Clift came up with a fumble recovery to give the Heat the ball on their own 34 yard line. However the Heat gave the ball back on the very next play.
With time winding down, Jamie Savley led the Heat down the field with a combination of passing and rushing, capped off with a 7 yard touchdown run by Savley to bring the Heat within eight points, down 66-58. However the clock was not their friend as the onside kick failed and the Warriors took a knee and the 66-58 victory.
The Heat will be playing all of their home games this year on the Mt. Juliet Christian Academy’s field. Because MJCA’s opening game is at home, the Heat’s next game will be Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.