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Bears explode for 44-0 opening win over Devils
Aug 19, 2012 12:00 am
By ANDY REED
MT. JULIET — After a couple of glitches to begin Friday's season opener, Mt. Juliet's Big Bear Machine picked up where it left off in 2011 with a 44-0 victory over Lebanon.
The Golden Bears were called for roughing freshman punter Christian Haffner four plays into the game. After Haffner got off his next attempt, linebacker Taylor Jones forced a fumble on a quarterback sack and tackle Zachary Santana recovered at the Lebanon 47-yard line.
But the Blue Devils could muster only two first downs and 78 total yards all evening. Mt. Juliet got untracked to roll up 349 yards, 307 on the ground.
Running back Caleb Hopkins scored twice - on a 22-yard run and a 42-yard catch from Nolan Chowbay, the only completion in two passes for the sophomore quarterback.
Mt. Juliet's other scores came from different people as the Golden Bears' wing-T offense spread the wealth. Hopkins led MJ with 92 yards on six carries. Sophomore Kyle Mahler was next with 81 yards on six rushes, including a 23-yard score. Senior fullback Contrez McCathern collected 74 yards on four rushes, one of which went for 61 yards and a touchdown. Junior Ben Cheatham chipped in with 44 yards on five carries, including a 14-yard score. Chowbay added a 12-yard bootleg for a touchdown.
Kicker Ryan Jenkins, who boomed all six of his first-half kickoffs into the end zone, booted a 43-yard field goal in the third quarter.
"I'm not going to complain a whole lot about the way we started," Mt. Juliet coach Roger Perry said. "The roughing-the-punter call, we did that, but we're not going to take away aggressiveness. Our defense played outstanding tonight. I'm even proud of the young guys who got in there and played.
"Offensively, we did some things well. Without evaluating the film, it's obvious we've got a lot of things to work on, got some things in the kicking game I can recall we need to work on. But all in all, it's a good opener for us and we're just thankful no one was seriously injured, I don't think, on either team."
Lebanon never advanced the ball past midfield until a high snap with Mt. Juliet's second punt team gave the Blue Devils a chance at the Golden Bear 11-yard line with 1:30 left. But MJ held LHS to save the shutout.
"That's the pride you try to take in your football team in that situation on the defensive side of the ball," Perry said of the late stand. "I was really proud of those young guys and the way they hung tight at the end."
Despite the early opportunities, injury-riddled Lebanon was eventually worn down by the big-play Bears, who scored 28 second-period points to open a 35-0 halftime lead before the clock ran continuously in the second half.
"You can sit here and everybody's got all the excuses in the world," Lebanon coach Troy Crane said. "But the bottom line, we played a really good football team that was better in every area than we were, and you're going to run into teams like that.
"The thing I'm pleased about our bunch is I know they are scratching and clawing and giving us everything that they got. We've got freshmen, sophomores, a bunch of people in there who normally wouldn't be in there due to injuries. But they're in there and learning baptism by fire and I know...it's going to pay off for us in the long run."
Both teams return to action at 7 p.m. next Friday. Lebanon will host Franklin County in the official debut of Clifton Tribble Field/Danny Watkins Stadium while Mt. Juliet will entertain McGavock.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952, ext. 17; or by email at email@example.com