On a cool and crisp night, fans gathered at Elzie Patton Stadium saw an entertaining game Friday as Mt. Juliet pulled away for its 12th straight win over Lebanon 45-24.
Though the game eventually turned out to be one-sided, the first half was wild and woolly before the Golden Bears went to the workhorse ackfield of Conlin Baggott and Camron Malone to pull away to its second win in as many starts and its Region 4-6A opener.
It was Lebanon’s Dequantay Shannon who fired the first salvo with a 94-yard opening kick return to the Mt. Juliet 5-yard line. The Bear defense stiffened and Sean Redmond kicked a 26-yard field goal to stake the Blue Devils to an early 3-0 lead.
Mt. Juliet’s first series ended with Steven Swoner’s 30-yard pass up the right seam to Jamari Sowell to go up 7-3.
Lebanon came back on the next offensive play when Jaylen Abston’s flea-flicker pass sailed 73 yard to Kemontez Abston to boost the Blue Devils back in front 10-7.
Swoner’s 52-yard pass to Parker Smith set up Sowell’s 5-yard scoring run for a 14-10 lead.
Mt. Juliet never trailed again and widened the margin on a 15-yard scoring sweep by Malone in the final minute of the first quarter for a 21-10 lead.
Lebanon’s next series ended in disaster as Mt. Juliet’s Tanner Cocke blocked a punt, scooped up the ball and returned it 34 yards for a 28-10 lead.
The Blue Devils intercepted Swoner three times in the first half — by Will Seats, Anthony Crowell and Christian Borden off a deflection on the final play of the first half. Crowell’s pickoff was returned 88 yards to the 7. Shannon scored on a direct snap run from the 2 to draw the Devils to within 28-17 going into halftime.
The second half was repeated runs by Baggott and Malone. Connor Kowalski kicked a 30-yard field goal for a 31-17 lead.
Shannon countered with another direct snap touchdown, this one from 4 yards for a 31-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Swoner scored on a 4-yard quarterback sneak on the second play of the fourth and Baggott ran in a 2-yard touchdown in the closing moments.
Both teams will return to non-region action at 7 p.m. next Friday — Lebanon at home against LaVergne and Mt. Juliet at Gallatin.