Bearden gets enough big plays to hold off Lenoir City, 24-14

Aidan Sears

In a game where both teams could rarely move the ball more than 10 yards at a time, it was one 69-yard touchdown that made the difference for the Bulldogs. Christian Robinson’s run late in the fourth quarter sealed the game for Bearden and kept the Bulldogs unbeaten in 2012 with a 24-14 win over Lenoir City on Friday. The Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0 District 4-AAA) knew they were in for their hardest game of the season so far, and they were ready for the game to be decided late. They were also ready for a Lenoir City team hungry for revenge after the Panthers blew a 17-0 lead a year ago to lose 21-17 at Bearden. “(Lenoir City) felt like they let one slip out of their hands with us last year, so they had plenty of motivation,” BHS Coach Brad Taylor said. “So we knew it was going to be 48 minutes, and it was; it was down to the last second.” Both teams were locked in a defensive stalemate for most of the first half, keeping the game scoreless until senior quarterback Nicky Frizen connected with Ethan Pollack for a 12-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. After adding a field goal to start the second half, the Bulldogs forced Lenoir City (3-1, 1-1) to fumble the ensuing kickoff. That possession ended with a touchdown catch by Hunter Johnson on 4th and 12, giving Bearden a 17-0 lead that the Panthers would not overcome. “It was tough, but we ended up moving the ball down the field a little bit,” Frizen said, “and we got some plays on the ground which really opened up that passing game. So we got those two big touchdowns, and that was the difference in the game.” Frizen resorted to scrambling more often than usual because of the Lenoir City pressure, but he was successful in staying safe with the help of his offensive line. “We saw a lot of different blitz packages and mixed coverages, and it was tough, but we ended up doing all right,” Frizen said. Forcing turnovers was one of the Bulldogs’ biggest goals going into the game. They caused four Panther turnovers total, including a fumble at the Bulldog 8-yard line when the game was scoreless in the second quarter. “We had a lot of turnovers,” junior linebacker Kole Matherly said. “We were stripping that ball out, doing everything we could to get that ball and get that offense a chance to score.” The Bulldogs turned the ball over three times themselves, and even though they were able to pull off the win, they know that they have to work on their ball protection going into their bye week. “We got a week off, and we’ve got to eliminate shooting ourselves in the foot as we go further,” Coach Taylor said. “And we’ve said this all along, but it’s really true now, at this point we can’t make the mistakes we’re making.” Bearden will host Maryville (4-0, 2-0) on Sept. 28 after their bye week. Last season’s Class 6A state champion Rebels beat the Bulldogs twice last year, 40-6 and 35-0. Aidan Sears is the sports editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.