The Mt. Juliet Bears started their season on a sour note Friday night as they lost on the road at Gallatin, 34-31.
The passing game led the way for Mt. Juliet as Junior quarterback Joey Hayes completed 19 of 31 passes on the night for 251 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Aidan Raines (9-117) and Junior wide receiver Mason Earls (9-104) accounted for all but 30 of the teams’ receiving yards on the night. Senior running back Jauhar Jackson also had a night, as he rushed for 109 yards on 20 carries.
The Bears had a tough time stopping Gallatin Junior running back Jordan Mason from the first whistle to the last. Mason got the scoring started with a 7 yard touchdown just 4:28 into the game. He scored again 3:36 later to give Gallatin an early 14-0 lead.
After the Bears got on the board with a field goal to start the second quarter, Jordan Mason scored his third touchdown of the night with 7:06 left in the second quarter to give the Green Wave a commanding 21-3 lead over their former 9-AAA rival.
Mt. Juliet was far from done however, and with 2:05 left in the half, Hayes found Raines over the middle from 16 yards out for the Bears first touchdown of the season. Mt. Juliet headed to the locker room with a little momentum, but still trailing 21-10.
Hayes came out firing to start the second half. He went 4-4 passing on a 6 play touchdown drive that was capped off by a nine yard reception by Raines, and suddenly the Bears found themselves within four at 21-17.
After turning Gallatin over on downs, Mt. Juliet had all the momentum and a chance to take the lead with their next drive. On the opening play of the drive Hayes dropped back and threw one over the middle to an open Raines, who could not pull it in and the ball was deflected into the air and intercepted. It was the only turnover of the night for Mt. Juliet and Jordan Mason made them pay for it. On the very next play, Mason ran 76 yards to the Mt. Juliet end zone to increase the Gallatin lead to 28-17.
Gallatin increased the lead to 34-17 on the first play of the fourth quarter but again, Mt. Juliet did not fold. With 5:47 left in the game, Hayes and Raines hooked up for their third touchdown of the game. Just 1:40 later, Hayes found Earls deep for a 59 yard touchdown and out of nowhere the Bears were down by just three, 34-31.
Mt. Juliet failed to recover a pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff and Gallatin took over at its’ own 38 yard line. Gallatin handed the ball to Mason five straight times, resulting in two first downs to end the game.
Despite a resilient effort, the Bears lost their season opener for the first time since 2008. They will be on the road again next week to face Cane Ridge. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.