NASHVILLE — Mt. Juliet Christian continued to show a big-time propensity to perform at its best when the chips are down.
The Saints rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit on the road Friday night, getting 195 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Darius Hylick as MJCA beat Ezell-Harding 28-21.
Hylick also came up with the game-clinching defensive play, forcing an Eagles fumble in the final two minutes and then helping the offense get a pair of first downs to run out the clock.
MJCA is 5-2, 3-1 in Div. II-Class A. It was the third time this season the Saints have won a game by a one-score margin: they also own narrow wins over Clay County and Middle Tennessee Christian.
The Saints, taking aim at a first-round playoff bye and a second-round home game, will close their regular season with a home game next week against Grace Baptist at Suey Field before going to Donelson Christian for their finale.
The first quarter actually couldn’t have gone any better for the Saints. MJCA’s defense forced a three-and-out, then drove right down the field behind the running of Hylick, who scored a 1-yard run to give his team a 6-0 lead.
MJCA then recovered an onside kick, and proceeded to march into Ezell territory. But the Saints fell short on a fourth-and-4, and the game seemed to turn right there.
Ezell-Harding (3-5, 1-3) went right downfield and drove 88 yards, with Kadarius Price scoring on a 2-yard run. The extra point gave the Eagles a 7-6 lead.
An interception moments later gave the Eagles the ball at MJCA 24, and Ezell-Harding scored moments later on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Derek Griffin to Jesse Thompson.
Griffin scrambled for an 11-yard score with 32 seconds left in the half, giving his team a 21-6 halftime lead.
But in the second half, MJCA had a 178-68 advantage in yardage, and used it to rally.
Four plays into the second half, Christian Link hit Logan Collier with a 34-yard touchdown pass, cutting the margin to 21-14.
The next sequence was much more telling. After a penalty and a sack contributed to a fourth-and-14, Link dropped back and hit Jack Crouch for a 28-yard touchdown pass, tying the game at 21.
After MJCA recovered a fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter, Hylick ran for a 36-yard touchdown three plays later. With 9:37 left in the game, it seemed unlikely that would be the extent of the scoring.
But the Saints forced two more turnovers — including the one by Hylick — to secure the win. It was their fourth straight win over Ezell-Harding.