A couple of special teams plays were the difference in a quarterfinal slugfest between Oakland and Mt. Juliet Friday, ending in a 14-7 win for the Patriots.
“This is a tough night,” said Mt. Juliet Head Coach Trey Perry after the game. “Those are two great teams right there … The crowd got a show tonight.”
He praised the effort by his team not just against Oakland, but all offseason and during the season. He said the whole team bought in and put the work in to get to this point and put them in a place to be successful.
“It was every day. The effort in film study, the weight room,” Perry said.
A blocked punt in the fourth quarter that led to a touchdown was the difference on the scoreboard, as the Patriots were able to get the game-deciding score. Mt. Juliet had tied the game in the third quarter after not being able to move the ball in the first half on the stingy Oakland defense. The Patriots had their troubles on the offensive side as well because the Bears were not giving away yards easily.
The only score of the first half was set up by a field position battle. Both teams couldn’t figure out the defenses for long drives, so the field needed to be flipped. Oakland was able to get that on several long punts, including a 71-yarder by punter Garrett Taylor which backed the Bears up to the 2-yard line. Mt. Juliet was not able to get out of the shadow of their own end zone and punted it back. It gave Oakland short field, and they were able to string a few runs together to get the first score. Xavier Myers scored on a 13-yard run to put the Patriots up 7-0.
Mt. Juliet stopped Oakland on the first drive on the second half and finally got the offense moving, picking up two first downs, then getting the big play they needed. Alvin Mixon found Malik Bowen for a 72-yard touchdown pass that saw the receiver outrun everyone to the end zone.
That lead held until the fourth quarter when Oakland was able to get a blocked punt which set them up at the 8-yard line.
“We just didn’t execute,” said Perry on that play. “That is on me.”
One play later, Myers got the deciding score. Mt. Juliet picked up big chunks of yardage on their next two drives, but two interceptions in Oakland territory sealed the win.
The game was a battle of two of the best defenses in the state, and it proved true on the field. The 14 and 7 points were the lowest point totals of the season for both schools. Oakland will move on to face Maryville in the semifinals. Mt. Juliet finished the season 12-1. The senior class playing in their final game have had an impressive run the last two seasons, finishing their Bear careers going 22-2 with two region titles.