Bearden comeback falls short on homecoming night

Bearden’s surging comeback was cut short Friday night by the running game of a rebuilt Morristown East.

After falling behind early in the first half, Bearden made a charge toward the end of the fourth, but the Hurricanes’ Matt Thompson scored on a long touchdown run to put the game away 41-28.

Thompson had his way all night, scoring three touchdowns and eventually supplying the dagger on a third down inside two minutes, where a stop would have given Bearden one last chance to steal a win.

On the school’s homecoming night, Bearden showed tremendous heart down the stretch and seemed to never give up until the final whistle blew.

Senior Emad Aqqad recovered an onside kick in the Bulldog surge and caught two touchdown passes from Xavier Johnson to bring Bearden within 34-28.

“We need to get going sooner and be able to establish our run game a little bit sooner, and we started doing that in the fourth quarter,” Bearden Coach Brad Taylor said. “Morristown East has been playing well lately and they carried that over into tonight.”

The Hurricanes (3-1) got revenge from last year’s 38-7 loss to the Bulldogs thanks to contributions from many different players, including the 228-yard night from Thompson and some extra rushing yards from quarterback Logan Wallace.

Bearden running back Malachi Horton had another solid night, carrying the ball 21 times for 104 yards, while Johnson ran for one touchdown and threw for three in the loss.

Down 14-0 in the second half, Bearden got back into the game with a tipped pass and interception by the duo of defensive linemen Chandler Greer and Demetrius Robinson. Johnson scored from eight yards out on the next play.

“They did a great job of not giving up and they kept fighting,” Coach Taylor said. “By doing that, they gave us a chance to win the ball game.”

A Bearden squad that was already struggling with injuries suffered another big one when senior lineman Caleb Bartlett went down in the second quarter. He was carted off the field and later returned on crutches. His health status was unavailable at press time.

Bearden (1-3, 1-0 District 4-AAA) will look to remain unbeaten in district play in a home game next Friday against Lenoir City (1-2, 0-1).