It is officially high school football time in Tennessee! As the temperature dipped below 80° for the first time in what has felt like years, we had some great football weather as two region champions from last year kicked off in Mount Juliet.
The energy was incredible at Elzie D. Patton Stadium. The Bears capitalized on that home-field advantage by recovering a fumble on Cane Ridge’s first play and scoring a 30-yard touchdown on their own first play and taking a 7-0 lead after a nice ball from junior QB Tyler Travers. The Bears seemed to be running away early after recovering another fumble on the Ravens’ next possession before an interception and long return set Cane Ridge up in the redzone with a chance to tie. This momentum was short-lived, however, as the Bears turned the Ravens away on 4th down.
As the Bears marched the other way, a great play design had tight end, Brady Jones, all alone in the endzone. Travers delivered the ball as he was getting hit but it was on target, giving him his second touchdown of the night and the Bears a 14-0 lead.
More unanswered points were on the way as Mount Juliet tacked on a field goal to take a 17-0 lead with 7:25 to go in the first half. William Czerniak was everywhere for the MJ defense as they continued to turn the Ravens away and get off the field on crucial 3rd and 4th down stops. The Ravens got a stop of their own with a little over two minutes to go in the half with a chance to capture some momentum before the break. A drive filled with chunk plays ended with one as the Ravens QB Joshua Reese dropped a ball in the back corner of the endzone for KaDarean Fletcher for a TD to cut the Bears’ lead to 17-7. While Cane Ridge was more than happy to have the points, they did leave Mount Juliet with 1:11 to score before the half. Harrison Edwards was back as the return man and after initially dropping the kickoff he then picked it up and shot out of a cannon for a 45-yard return, putting the Bears in great position. The Ravens punched right back with a sack that resulted in a 16-yard loss for the Bears. This stalled the drive sending both teams to their locker rooms with Mount Juliet leading 17-7.
Mount Juliet received the ball to start the second half looking to again go up by 17. This possession was crucial for the Ravens, and they were able to get the stop they needed.
Their momentum quickly vanished as they continued to struggle with ball security and fumbled in their first play after the Bears’ punt, setting MJ up inside the 15-yard line.
Edwards then scampered around the right side making multiple Ravens miss on his way into the north endzone to make the score 24-17 Bears after the PAT. Cane Ridge did not seem to be phased as they racked up big plays on their way to another score, once again from Reese to Fletcher wide open in the endzone.
Although they still had a 10-point lead, it felt as though the pressure was on Mount Juliet to respond and hold serve. They could not. The Ravens not only forced a punt but backed Mount Juliet all the way back to their own 15 resulting in the punt being downed in positive territory. The Ravens took what looked like a broken play and blazed up the field for what would’ve been a 45-yard gain but once again fumbled and gave the ball back to the Bears. If the Ravens’ main hurdle was fumbles the Bears’ was almost equally as hindering in the form of penalties. This is a problem they faced last season and one they need to correct moving forward. A massive 4th down stop by Mount Juliet gave them great field position as they looked to build their lead as the fourth quarter began.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Bears wasted no time as Jon’Mikael Crudup knifed his way through the defense on a 50-yard touchdown run. The Bears had extended their lead to 31-14. After a touchdown by Cane Ridge’s Marte’on Matthews to make the score 31-21 with 7:30 to go in the game, Mount Juliet began a crucial drive to keep their lead out of reach and keep the Ravens’ comeback attempt from seeing any light. A bad snap got things started in the wrong direction and the Bears were not able to recover. With 5:49 remaining, Cane Ridge had a chance to make it a one-score game. You can watch the full drive below.
The Reese to Fletcher connection struck again and with 4:42 remaining, Mount Juliet led 31-28. How would the Bears respond? The Ravens’ defense, reminiscent of one with the same name featuring Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, shut down the Bears’ offense and had the opportunity to tie or lead with 3:47 to go. Facing a 4th down with the game on the line Cane Ridge had to convert. Mount Juliet’s Crudup came up with the sack to send the Ravens’ offense to the bench and his own to the field with a chance to put the game out of reach. A failed QB sneak with 37 seconds left gave the Ravens one last shot to win the game. With 32 seconds to go, the Ravens began their last-chance drive, but an interception by Bears linebacker Brooklyn Nguyen sealed it for Mount Juliet as they escaped with a 31-28 win.
Our Source MVP is Brooklyn Nguyen. Brooklyn made the play of the game by sealing the win for the Bears with his interception on Cane Ridge’s last offensive play. You can find our MVP interview with Brooklyn below.