The remnants of Hurricane Harvey brought a brisk wind and rain, often flying sideways.
But Mt. Juliet’s special teams came charging straight ahead, blocking Noah Mulaski’s first two punts of the night. Aidan Raines cashed in the first block with an 18-yard touchdown run as the Golden Bears consistently played on Lebanon’s half of the field all night.
“A night like tonight, you’re proud of your guys for snapping it and catching it and kicking it or holding it and kicking it,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said after his Golden Bears won their Region 4-6A opener to improve to 3-0 for the season. “Our special teams played a big part tonight in a deluge.”
“We knew they liked to block punts, block kicks,” Lebanon coach Chuck Gentry said after his Blue Devils dropped their region opener and fell to 0-3. “I’ll have to look at the film and see what happened. We felt like we had it schemed up. We broke down protection twice. After I started emphasizing it, it seemed like we blocked a little better. I don’t know if they quit coming after it or what.
“In these conditions, you got to catch it and get it out fast and we didn’t do that the first time. The second time, I think we had a blown assignment. I couldn’t tell from where I was standing. We’ll work to get that fixed and see what happens. But you can’t get yourself in a hole against a good football team, especially in the conditions with the way we were tonight.”
With the short field, Mt. Juliet’s offense didn’t have to build up big yardage numbers, getting 210 of its 239 total yards on the ground. Quarterback Cody Glass did complete half of his eight passes, two of which went for touchdowns - 15 yards to Malik Bowen and 10 to Lawson Rich for a 21-0 halftime lead.
Marcello Walton’s 12-yard scoring sweep and Reggie Grimes’ 10-yarder on his first carry of the night capped the scoring midway through the third quarter and kept the clock running.
Lebanon, playing without injured quarterback Chandler Crite, was held to 59 total yards, all on the ground, as the Golden Bears ran their season-opening points differential to 128-0. Braden Costley had three tackles for loss and two sacks. Tony Thompson returned to the lineup and posted two tackles in the backfield while forcing a fumble which the Blue Devils recovered.
“Lebanon had a good game plan,” Perry said. “On a night like tonight, you got to stack the box and take your chances with them throwing the football. Cody did a good job managing our offense tonight, even running the ball.”
Raines led Mt. Juliet’s ground attack with 82 yards on 17 carries.
“Aidan actually played more defense tonight, so he was a war daddy for us being able to play both sides of the ball. He has fun on nights like tonight.
“Our defense is really playing good football. A lot of seniors, a lot of guys who’ve played a lot of football.”
The Blue Devil defense made the Bears earn their yards.
“We were backed up all night,” Gentry said. “We had a blown coverage where they threw it up and over us. Besides that, I thought we played well. We tackled better, and that’s what I wanted to do.
“Our offense has put us in a hole and we have to help our defense out, and help our special teams out for sure.”
Quarterbacks Chad Butler and Breeze Copas combined to run for 29 yards.
“Both of them played well under the circumstances - 15-20 mph wind, raining sideways in your first real high school action this year,” Gentry said. “I commended them. You’re doing the best you can do, just keep fighting, keep plugging along.
“Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow.”
Both teams will be at home at 7 p.m. next Friday for non-district action. Lebanon will welcome LaVergne for homecoming while Mt. Juliet will brace for a visit from Gallatin.
Mt. Juliet 35, Lebanon 0
Mt. Juliet 7 14 14 0—35
Lebanon 0 0 0 0—0
Mt. Juliet—Aidan Raines 18 run (Robbie Brewington kick), 7:05.
Mt. Juliet—Malik Bowen 15 pass from Cody Glass (Brewington kick), 8:09.
Mt. Juliet—Lawson Rich 20 pass from Glass (Brewington kick), :22.
Mt. Juliet—Marcello Walton 12 run (Brewington kick), 9:27.
Mt. Juliet—Reggie Grimes 10 run (Brewington kick), 6:25.
First Downs 12 4
—Rush 11 4
—Pass 1 0
—Penalty 0 0
Rushes-yards 39-210 33-59
Passing yards 29 0
—Comp.-Pass.-Int. 4-8-0 0-6-0
Punts-avg. 3-32.3 7-17.1
Penalties-Yards 5-50 5-46
Fumbles lost 0 0
RUSHING—Mt. Juliet: Aidan Raines 17-82, Marcello Walton 6-25, Cody Glass 6-48, Lawson Rich 1-13, Reggie Grimes 3-33, Alvin Mixon 1-0, Jacob Rodriguez-(-3), Jayshawn Taylor 3-9, Jorie Green 1-3. Lebanon: Chad Butler 6-3, Tyrique Cooper 9-11, Tobi Adewale 2-4 Breeze Copas 7-26, Joshua Powell 6-15, Kemon Neuble 2-2, Tyson Kelly 1-(-1).
PASSING— Mt. Juliet: Cody Glass 4-8-0—2 . Lebanon: Chad Butler 0-4-0—0, Noah Mulaski 0-1-0—0, Breeze Copas 0-1-0—0.
RECEIVING— Mt. Juliet: Malik Bowen 2-14, Michael Ruttlen 1-5, Lawson Rich 1-10.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.