The Mt. Juliet Golden Bears came into their game against Overton Friday night with a three game winning streak in hand. However, it is probably safe to say that the Bears had not beaten a team of Overton’s stature yet this season. After a very close game throughout, that changed on Friday night as the Bears were able to pick up another huge region win, 24-21 over the Bobcats. The win helped Mt. Juliet extend their record to 4-3 overall, and 3-1 in region play.
The first quarter, and almost the entire first half, saw no scoring from either side. With 3:10 left in the half, Overton threw the first punch. Just barely over a minute later, Overton also threw the second punch. After an Overton touchdown pass to wide receiver Derrick Cane, the Bears found themselves down 14-0 in a matter of minutes.
They did not fold, though. Junior quarterback Joey Hayes led an impressive scoring drive just before the half, capping it with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Trey Pruitt with 18 seconds left before the break. The teams went to the locker room with Overton ahead, 14-7.
It did not take long for the Bears to answer the call in the second half. They received the kick to start the second half, and used a balanced offensive attack to find the end zone and tie the game. Senior running back Jauhar Jackson found pay dirt from two yards out to fully swing the momentum towards the home team.
As good teams do, Overton answered. After a few Mt. Juliet penalties helped the Bobcat offense, they scored again to retake the lead, at 21-14 with 6:39 left in the third quarter.
The Bears were able to get three more points on the board before the end of the quarter, and Overton took a 21-17 led into the final frame of play. With 8:39 remaining, sophomore running back Gabriel Magalei changed the entire complexion of the game, and gave Mt. Juliet their first lead of the night, 24-21. The Bears used the fresh legs of Magalei to run the ball into scoring position before the sophomore found the end zone on a critical third and goal.
On the next series, Mt. Juliet’s defense got a stop on third down. Overton was faced with a 4th and 3 on their own end of the field. As they lined up to punt, Mt. Juliet head coach, Trey Perry, decided to call a timeout as it appeared Overton was gearing up to fake the punt in order to pick up the first down. The Bobcats did end up deciding to punt the ball to the Bears on the next play, giving them a chance to ice the game.
The Bears used again used a balanced offensive attack on the last drive, and on 4th and 7 at the Overton 17 yard line and just over a minute to play, Perry was faced with a decision. He could take the three points, and give Overton the ball back, needing a touchdown to win, or he could go for it, and finish the game once and for all with a first down. He went for it. “Our logic on it was that we had made them use all of their timeouts, and we also had them pinned. We liked our opportunity to end the game with a first down.”
The logic worked, as Hayes found junior wide receiver Mason Earls for a first down to secure the win. Earls ended the game with six catches for 89 yards, and nearly all of his receptions seemed to come on critical downs. Hayes finished the game 16 of 24 passing for 194 yards and a touchdown, while Jackson led the rushing attack with 112 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
“Friday night was huge in so many ways” said Perry after practice this week. “Most importantly though, it allowed us to complete a football game, including not panicking when we were down early. As I’m sure many people have identified, we beat a good football team on Friday night.” he continued.
Looking ahead to this week, the Bears will be at home again, this time against Antioch. Students will be allowed in to the game for free with presentation of their student ID. “Antioch is another athletic football team that can make you pay if you’re not playing assignment football. We’re a little banged up right now but it’s a good opportunity to see if some guys can help us in the second half of the season.”
Kickoff this Friday is set for 7 p.m. and once again, students enter free with presentation of their student ID. This Friday only.