KNOXVILLE — While holding a potent Cleveland offense to just 10 points, Bearden’s defense — praised by its head coach for “playing really well all year” despite a losing record — won a lot of third-down battles against the Blue Raiders.
And that led to the Bulldogs winning their third game of the season, the first at BHS’s Bill Clabo Field, and second in District 2-6A.
“We never got any sacks, and we only had one tackle for loss, but we were able to keep them in situations where we could get them in third-and-medium, third-and-long, and we were able to get off the field after third downs,” Bulldogs head coach Morgan Shinlever said about the 14-10 win Friday night, Oct. 15, “The key was just playing good, overall sound defense.”
Ethan Ford’s interception in the closing seconds, with the Blue Raiders driving, sealed Bearden’s victory. While BHS improved to 3-5 overall, 2-2 in region, Cleveland fell to 5-3, 1-3.
Overall, Nicco Young “obviously had a good overall game,” Shinlever said about the senior, who in addition to his stellar play at linebacker rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns, while catching two passes for 40 yards.
However, “The last drive that we had, it was basically Drew Parrott (freshman quarterback) and Sam Tummins (sophomore receiver), that kept that (60-yard) drive going for us,” he added.
“That might have been Drew’s most complete game because he was able to keep us in good, manageable down and distances,” Shinlever added.
Young’s eventual winning TD run came with just 1:25 remaining, as the Bulldogs overcame getting a game-tying field goal blocked just three minutes earlier, which the Blue Raiders returned to midfield.
Bulldog sophomore Riley Mahan “made the saving tackle” preventing a Cleveland block-turned-touchdown.
Among his top defenders, Shinlever pointed to junior Cayden Douglas, who had been out with an injury for a good portion of the season.
“He ended up getting an interception that was very key,” the coach said.
Cody Clough, BHS sophomore, also had an interception early in the game to set up the Bulldogs’ lone score until late.
Senior Night for Bearden awaits Friday, Oct. 22, as Class 4A power Anderson County comes to Bill Young Field.
Opening kickoff is 7 p.m.