Blankenship big for BHS

Freshman quarterback comes through late as Bearden stuns Oak Ridge 14-9

OAK RIDGE — Two big offensive plays and solid defense were the key ingredients in a recipe that netted the Bearden High School football team its first victory of the 2021 season.

The Bulldogs came from behind to notch a 14-9 win versus Oak Ridge Friday evening, Aug. 27, ORHS’s at Blankenship Field thanks to a 60-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter.

Drew Parrott, Bearden freshman quarterback, scrambled and found an open Max Giesecke, who rumbled to the end zone with what would prove the winning score with 11:01 remaining in the contest.

The Bulldogs (1-1) got a stellar effort from their defense, which held the Wildcats (0-2) in check for most of the evening. Oak Ridge, which reached the Class 5A state championship game in 2020, lost 14 starters from that team.

But Bearden head coach Morgan Shinlever said he isn’t buying that the Wildcats are in a rebuilding mode.

“There’s nothing about Oak Ridge that’s rebuilding,” he said. “They’re a great team. They’re unbelievable.

“They’ve got players. They’ve got a great quarterback and they’ve got one player who will play Power 5 football and another that will play Division I football somewhere,” he added. “And they’ve got a linebacker, and if he doesn’t go on to play college football somewhere, I’ll be surprised.”

Parrott’s game-winning touchdown pass helped the Bulldogs erase a 9-7 deficit, as Oak Ridge scored all nine of its points in the third frame.

Quick strike

But Bearden opened the game with a trick play that worked quite well, as senior running back Seth Arana threw an 80-yard option pass to Sam Tummins to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead just six seconds into the contest.

The Wildcats would pull even when quarterback Hayden Tarwater scored on a 1-yard plunge with 8:02 remaining in the third quarter.

Oak Ridge took a 9-7 lead when Jai Hundley, a transfer from Knoxville West, blocked a punt that went out of the Bearden end zone for a safety.

Young leads defense

Defensively, the Bulldogs sparkled for the second consecutive week, according to Shinlever, who saw his squad drop a 24-2 decision to Knoxville West at KWHS’s Bill Wilson Field Saturday evening, Aug. 21.

“This is two games now that our defense has played well against top teams and some of the top elite athletes,” the coach said about improving.

Senior linebacker Nicco Young spearheaded the BHS defense as he had 13 tackles, three sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery.

Young, who also plays running back, was the Bulldogs leading rusher with 46 yards on 11 carries.

Still on the road

Bearden will play its third consecutive road game this week, as it travels to rival Hardin Valley Academy to open Region 2-6A play.

Opening kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Hawks (0-2) have suffered early-season losses to Karns (21-7) and Morristown West (24-14), but Shinlever said his team is not taking Hardin Valley lightly.

“We have to go to the Valley,” he said. “They’re going to be a hungry team, and we’ve had some pretty wild games against them. They have been absolutely crazy.”

This game originally was to be showcased as WVLT-TV 8’s Rivalry Thursday game Sept. 2 — but was moved to Friday with no TV — because UT’s football opener versus Bowling Green was moved up two days from Saturday, Sept. 4.