Our week 6 game of the week takes us to Wilson County for a rivalry game with two teams that are in very different places. Mount Juliet comes into the game at 3-1 with the district crown in mind. Wilson Central is 1-4 and could start to turn the season around with a big rivalry win.
According to Mount Juliet however, this isn’t a rivalry anymore as you can see below with the sign Mount Juliet ran through to take the field. They needed to play like this wasn’t a rivalry to keep up in their district and maintain their position at the top.
On the first drive, MJ was in a hole early with a second and 20 but a deep shot connected downfield, and The Bears were able to punch it in for six two plays later, on a 25-yard run from RB Harrison Edwards. It was now up to The Wildcats to respond. Penalties quickly put Central in a second and 22 situation that they were able to recover from, thanks to a personal foul on The Bears. The Wildcat offense was now on the move but stalled near the 40. Central attempted a 47-yard field goal that had the distance but was just wide. The score would remain 7-0 Bears.
MJ would take over on offense, and a holding penalty would back them up inside the 20. Then, the Wilson Central stands erupted as linebacker Grant Roundtree forced and recovered a fumble, as he sacked the Mount Juliet Quarterback, giving the Wildcats life late in the first quarter. Mount Juliet was not phased as they stuffed the Wildcats at the one-yard line with a huge defensive stand.
The back and forth would continue as Mario Marshall would intercept Bears QB, Tyler Travers, near mid-field. In rivalry games, paper and rankings don’t matter if lower-ranked team is forcing turnovers and The Wildcats were doing just that. However, they could not capitalize again as The Bears forced and recovered a fumble of their own. The Wildcat defense held strong, keeping their team in the game early and forced a punt. Their offense got the ground game rolling on this drive, as Mario Marshall’s name continued to be called. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they were backed up by another penalty, but again were able to overcome. With time running out in the half this drive had turned into a crucial one for Central as they tried to tie the game before going to the locker-room. The Wildcats drove the ball inside the 30 as the clock hit the same number. How Central handled the next 30 seconds could be a defining factor in this game. The Bears defense held again and forced a field goal. That attempt, with six seconds left, would be good making it 7-3 Mount Juliet going into the half…or so everyone thought. The ensuing kickoff was kicked out of bounds by the Wildcats. No time was taken off the clock and the penalty for illegal procedure would give Mount Juliet six seconds from the 40-yard line. The play was a handoff. Nothing too dangerous with the lead in-hand, but RB Dearrius Morton had other plans. Morton turned the corner and outran the entire Central defense as the scoreboard blared to end the half. The 60-yard run would make it 14-3 Bears going to the locker room.
As the second half began, the Wildcats needed to create energy for their offense. They did exactly that with a triple reverse pass that went for nearly 40 yards, but another fumble would cut the drive short. Dearrius Morton would then electrify the Mount Juliet stands with a highlight run of nearly 50 yards that almost went the distance after he hurdled a Wildcat defender. The drive would eventually stall, and The Bears would settle for a 40 yard field goal making it 17-3 Bears.
Mario Marshall would set the Wildcats up with great field position on the kickoff return, taking the ball up near the 40-yard line, but Central had to punt quickly with a three-and-out. MJ showed no mercy and blocked the punt and took it in for a touchdown. Who else but Dearrius Morton had the return. It was his second touchdown of the night, making it 24-3 Bears. That would remain the score going into the fourth quarter. Mount Juliet would start with the ball. It was going to take a 180 degree turn from The Wildcats to get back into this game.
The Bears started the quarter with the ball. They methodically moved the ball down the field using both the run and the pass. They would eventually cap off the drive with Morton’s third touchdown of the night. After a fumbled snap, Travers managed to recover the ball and hand it to Morton who showed off his speed and got to the outside beating the Central defense to the corner and sidestepped his way into the end zone. It was now 31-3 Bears.
The ensuing drive for Central would eat up much of the fourth quarter, and after some back and forth from both teams the clock would run out with the score unchanged. Mount Juliet would get out of Wilson Central with the win and bring themselves to 3-0 in district play.
Our MVP for the night is Mount Juliet dual sport athlete and Running Back Dearrius Morton. Morton was a workhorse for The Bears tonight and scored 18 of Mount Juliet’s 31 points. His speed was on full display on his two offensive touchdowns and his playmaking ability on his special teams score. This was Dearrius’ first time playing in this rivalry now that he is eligible following his transfer from MBA. I asked Dearrius about his first impressions of the rivalry and what his performance in this game meant to him. This is what he had to say after the game:
“It’s pretty dirty but I like it. It’s a lot of competition and they’re a good team and its always going to be a tough rivalry game…It felt good to lead my boys out. I don’t feel the rivalry, but I do now, and I see why it felt good to help my team.
I then asked Dearrius about his speed that he showcased tonight and learned that he “has always been a little fast” and is also on the track team at Mount Juliet. He said that he works on his speed for that. It was evident tonight for sure as he helped his team get a big district win in his first experience in the rivalry.