MT. JULIET — Special teams were centainly special for Mt. Juliet Friday night.
The Golden Bears scored two touchdowns within a two-minute span on a fake field goal and a blocked punt to seize control in a 23-18 victory over arch-rival Wilson Central before a drenched crowd.
Mt. Juliet drove 80 yards to start the second half. It appeared the Bears would settle for a 35-yard field-goal try by Justin Dubay. But holder Alex Landis, MJ’s quarterback, jumped up and found a wide-open Dubay for a 17-yard touchdown to put the home team ahead for the first time 14-10.
Central was forced to punt on the ensuing series. But Peyton Haynes blocked Brad Cavanough’s kick and Garrett Zickgraf recovered in the end zone for a 21-10 lead.
“Extremely proud of our special teams, and our coaches for the scheming that we did this week,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said after his Golden Bears improved to 3-2 for the season and 2-1 in District 9-AAA. “When you’ve got teams that are close together like that, special teams are going to make a difference. Both teams had a lot of pride on the line and they’re going to fight in games like this.”
Those weren’t the only big special teams plays. Jacob Daniel blocked Cavanough’s 36-yard field-goal try in the first quarter and Mt. Juliet recovered a muffed punt moments later to set up Jauhar Jackson’s 23-yard touchdown run which brought the Bears into a 7-7 tie late in the first quarter.
And to end the game, Cavanough, whose 29-yard field goal lifted Central to a 10-7 halftime lead, went to a knee to field a low snap in the end zone and was called down for a safety.
All this came after Alex Price got Central off to a bang-up start with an 84-yard touchdown run on the game’s second play.
“We made way too many mistakes in this game,” Wildcat coach Brad Dedman said after Central slipped to 2-3 for the season and 1-2 in District 9-AAA. “You make this many mistakes, you just can’t win.
“I’ll take all the blame for the mistakes. It’s my fault. We just got to get back to work and correct those… I just feel bad for our team right now. We laid it all on the line. We just made way too many mistakes.”
Price was also central in getting the Wildcats back in the game midway through the fourth quarter. His 45-yard catch from Jordan Roundtree set up his 19-yard catch in the end zone. After a Mt. Juliet penalty on the extra point, Roundtree muscled in the quarterback sneak for the two-point conversion to bring the visitors within 21-18 with 6:14 left.
But a sporadic sprinkle turned into a steady rain just as Central scored for the second time, which may have been a contributing factor in Wildcat dropped passes the rest of the way.
“Things like that and you go back to all the early-morning practices that we’ve done in all those situations,” Perry said. “The dew’s on the ground and we’re using a wet football, so we’re used to situations like that and tonight it paid off.”
Both team will close out their non-district schedules at 7 p.m. next Friday. After opening the season with five straight road games, Central will start a five-game homestand to end the year by welcoming Dickson County to Gladeville while Mt. Juliet will travel to Centennial in Franklin.
Mt. Juliet 23, Wilson Central 18
Wilson Central 7 3 0 8—18
Mt. Juliet 7 0 14 2—23
Wilson Central — Alex Price 84 run [Brad Cavanough kick], 11:04.
Mt. Juliet — Jauhar Jackson 23 run [Justin Dubay kick], :28.
Wilson Central — Cavanough 29 FG, 1:41.
Mt. Juliet — Dubay 17 pass from Alex Landis [Dubay kick], 6:22.
Mt. Juliet — Garrett Zickgraf blocked punt recovery in end zone [Dubay kick], 436.
Wilson Central — Price 19 pass from Jordan Roundtree [Roundtree run], 6:14.
Mt. Juliet — Safety. Punter fields low snap on knee in end zone, 3:39.
Wilson Central Mt. Juliet
First downs 12 13
—Rushing 5 9
—Passing 5 3
—Penalty 2 1
Rushes-yards 31-152 53-160
Passing yards 139 43
Comp.-Att.-Int. 10-27-0 6-9-0
Punts-Avg. 3-20.7 8-35.7
Penalties-yards 5-50 11-100
Fumbles lost 2 1
RUSHING — Wilson Central: Weston Rountree 4-5, Alex Price 9-101, Gabe Angel 7-23, Kaleb Butler 1-2, D’Sean Osborne 5-24, Jordan Wilson 1-8, Jordan Roundtree 3-[-7], Brad Cavanough 1-[-4]. Mt. Juliet: Jordan Hooper 1-1, Trey Pruitt 1-0, Tavner Simmons 1-1, Alex Landis 3-[-1], Ben Cheatham 3-10, Kyle Mahler 13-69, Kyle Smith 17-23, Jauhar Jackson 5-36, Cole Sears 3-[-1], Courtland Douglas 6-22.
PASSING — Wilson Central: Jordan Roundtree 10-27-0—139. Mt. Juliet: Alex Landis 6-9-0—43.
RECEIVING — Wilson Central: Zack Dover 1-22, Alex Price 4-84, Gabe Angel 4-25, Blake Lea 1-8. Mt. Juliet: Patrick Cartmell 1-9, Logan Hyder 2-4, Ben Cheatham 1-0, Michael Khoury 1-13, Justin Dubay 1-17.