SPARTA — Mt. Juliet’s first visit to White County’s Dee Harris Field turned wild and woolly as the No. 2-ranked Golden Bears needed most of their early lead to escape town with their perfect season intact via a 44-32 Region 5-5A win Friday night.

The Bears jumped to a 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter, including 21-0 in the first, on the strength of Mark Shenouda’s 24-yard field goal, Griffin Throneberry’s 10-yard touchdown run and TD catch from Stephen Swoner, who ran in a 4-yard score for the second-quarter lead.

White County, aiming at a return trip to the postseason after pulling out of the TSSAA playoff series for a few years, rallied with three unanswered touchdowns to climb to within 24-20 going into halftime.

The teams swapped third-quarter touchdowns with the Warriors missing the two-point conversion. But that was after Swoner flipped a 20-yard touchdown toss to Walter Bowers to open a 31-20 lead. White County climbed to within 31-26 going into the fourth.

Swoner’s two fourth-quarter touchdowns sealed it for Mt. Juliet, hitting Bowers from 22 yards and Amarion Workings from 29 with less than four minutes to play, countering White County’s 60-yard scamper which briefly brought the Warriors to within 37-32.

When the dust settled, Swoner had a touchdown run and four TD passes. Throneberry had a rushing and receiving touchdown. Bowers had two scoring catches in the second half as Mt. Juliet moved to 2-0 in region play and 5-0 overall.

White County slipped to 3-2, 0-2.

Mt. Juliet will return home after three straight road games, two of which were long trips, as the Golden Bears face rival Wilson Central at 7 p.m. this coming Friday at Mel Brown Athletic Complex/Elzie Patton Stadium. It marks MJ’s only home contest in a six-game stretch.

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