By Andy Reed
GALLATIN — The Mt. Juliet players, coaches and fans who endured loss after loss after loss to Gallatin during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s might have thought this day would never come.
The 2018 Golden Bears overcame a slow start to dominate the Green Wave in all phases of a 49-3 thumping Friday night at historic Calvin Short Field, named for the legendary Gallatin coach who oversaw many of those GHS wins.
A 52-yard pass from Ander Sloan to Spencer Briggs on a wheel route set up Trace Kelley’s 35-yard field goal for a 3-0 Gallatin lead just over two minutes in.
Robbie Brewington had a shot on the other end from 37 yards only to see his line drive hit the left upright.
But the Bears dominated from then on as Justin Harrigan scored on a 1-yard run to put Mt. Juliet ahead 7-3 to start a 29-point second quarter as the undefeated visitors never looked back.
“I just told them I felt like it was a complete team victory – offense, defense, special teams,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said following a rare lopsided victory on the field which has been the home of the Wave since 1930. “This is a tough place to win, and always has been, so it’s even a little big more special to play like this on Calvin Short Field. What a great coach he was, a legend. It’s a big win for us.”
A 5-yard Gallatin punt gave Mt. Juliet the ball at the Green Wave 13-yard line. Alvin Mixon covered the distance with a flip to Malik Bowen, who then picked up the snap on the extra point and threw to Bryan Aiken for the two-point conversion and a 15-3 lead.
Cage Ellis intercepted a Gallatin pass. But Mixon, who completed 6 of 8 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns, threw into double coverage in the end zone for an interception.
But Sloan gave it right back on the next play as Connor Ruzek intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 30 yards for a 22-3 lead.
Mt. Juliet burned a couple of time outs to get the ball back. Mixon didn’t need that much time as he heaved a 66-yard bomb to Bowen for a 29-3 halftime lead.
Bowen, who caught three passes for 127 yards, won a jump ball to grab a 48-yard aerial from Mixon to set up Ruzek’s 1-yard scoring run for a 36-3 lead.
Ruzek then stripped the ball free from a Gallatin running back and Devin Palmer scooped up the ball and scooted 50 yards for the touchdown and a 43-3 cushion.
Derek Miller recovered a Gallatin fumble and Camron Malone cashed in with a 7-yard scoring run to wrap up the night as the clock continued to run.
Fifteen Golden Bear ballcarriers gained 258 yards on 38 carries. Mt. Juliet accumulated 421 yards and 16 first downs while giving the punter the night off.
Seven nights after Mt. Juliet’s failure to execute the center/quarterback exchange caused the Bears grief against Lebanon, Mt. Juliet recovered its only bad snap. But Gallatin had the yips, including sailing two snaps over the quarterback in shotgun formation, causing the Green Wave to be held to 16 rushing yards and 72 total with three first downs in falling to 1-3.
“A lot of what happened to us last week happened to them tonight, just some really quirky turnovers that messed up their momentum early in the game,” said Perry, a Sumner County native who grew up in nearby Portland. “I never thought I’d say this, but for us to only fumble one, that’s outstanding compared to last week.
“We had a little bit of a misalignment early on and, credit to them because they did a good job of getting to us on the wheel route. But we adjusted well. Our defense knows who we are and they continued to play great tonight.”
Mt. Juliet will return to Region 4-6A action at 7 p.m. next Friday at Wilson Central.