Despite these teams playing every year, a district deciding rivalry was renewed Friday night for the first time since 2019 with both teams being in the same district again. It was one of the best uniform matchups you’ll see as Mount Juliet in their all black with black helmets and gold/pink accents and Lebanon in their all white with white helmets with blue accents met in a 6A shootout. Shootout really isn’t even the right word. This game was a war.
Lebanon showed early how they were going to be attacking the Mount Juliet defense by taking multiple deep shots on their first drive and converting a fourth down in the red zone with a perfectly timed and executed screen play before Casen Kincaid connected with Jack Cinard in the back corner of the endzone coming off heavy play action. This not only opened up the scoring in this rivalry but announced the Blue Devil’s presence on the road. It didn’t take long for Lebanon to build on that lead and momentum as Tyler Travers first pass and the first play on offense from the Golden Bears was tipped before being intercepted by Weston Binkard and returned for a touchdown. It was quickly 14-0 Lebanon at Roger Perry field. The away stands erupted, and the student section called across to the home sideline, “Why so quiet?” as we went into the second quarter.
Travers next few pass attempts went much better as he hit a receiver on the boundary and converted a third down over the middle before Harrison Edwards exploded up the middle for a 65-yard Mount Juliet touchdown run making it 14-7 Lebanon with 11:42 left in the first half. The Blue Devils were not phased however scoring in just over a minute with a Jackson Dansby touchdown run set up by a deep shot from Kincaid to Chaseton Dixon. Mount Juliet looking to respond couldn’t get much going due to a lack of protection for Travers and holes for the backs to run through. After getting backed into a fourth and long the Bears’ punt unit came out on the field and the punt was blocked by the Binkard into the endzone and recovered by Lebanon for a touchdown. It was now 28-7 with just over 7:45 left in the half. Lebanon had now scored in all three phases of the game weren’t done just yet. Travers’ next pass attempt was intercepted by Brice Njezic at the Bears’ 30-yard line and the Blue Devils were threatening again. The Golden Bears defense held strong and pushed Lebanon back and forced a 35-yard field goal that was missed. With 3:49 to go in the half, Mount Juliet had a chance to make it a two-score game with the second half kickoff coming their way. After converting a crucial fourth down near their own 25-yard line the Bears began to roll down the field at a pace they had not reached so far in the game as Travers picked up chunk yardage through the air. They entered the redzone for the first time all night as the clock reached 17 seconds to play. After a great tackle by Key Crowell the Bears faced a fourth and short just past the 20-yard line and with three seconds to go. Mount Juliet elected to kick a field goal and that field goal attempt was blocked by Crowell who made fantastic back-to-back plays to secure a 21-point lead for his Blue Devils going into the half.
Mount Juliet received the second half kickoff down 28-7 needing any kind of points, but it was going to have to start at the line of scrimmage. The Bears O-line was going to have to take pressure off Travers and keep holes from collapsing in front of their running backs. A momentum shot in the arm came on the kickoff return and it was just what amount Juliet needed as the ball was returned inside the Blue Devil 30 yard line. It seemed the Golden Bears were in prime position to scratch and claw back into the game but under pressure Travers put the ball up in the air and Crowell came down with it for Lebanon. The Blue Devils had taken away all the momentum Mount Juliet had built coming out of the halftime break but then gave it right back as the Golden Bears came up with an interception of their own. Both teams traded stops before Mount Juliet finally got points on the board for the second time with a QB sneak at 5:30 in the third. That score made it 28-14 Lebanon. After picking up a huge stop Mount Juliet put another good drive together on the back of a massive run from Jon’Mikael Crudrup, but penalties backed them away from the endzone in a goal-to-go scenario, forcing a made field goal to cut Lebanon’s lead to 28-17.
As we entered the fourth quarter. After both teams traded stops again, the Bears mounted a long drive that resulted in another made field goal cutting Lebanon’s lead to just eight with right under six minutes to play. The next drive for Lebanon was crucial to keep the ball away from the surging Bears. Mount Juliet had captured all the momentum and Lebanon quickly found themselves in a third and 20 situation with their backs against their own endzone and a crowd that had come alive in the home stands. Lebanon was forced to punt and with 3:25 remaining in the game, down one score and a two-point conversion, Mount Juliet had the ball. You can watch the full drive below.
Two read zone plays were executed to perfection including a double pass and we were all tied up with 1:59 to go in the game. Lebanon now had 1:59 to go and win the game but the power of the Golden Bears’ momentum was too much to overcome, and Lebanon was forced to punt. Mount Juliet now had 49 seconds to go win the game in what could be a storybook rivalry comeback, but the Blue Devil defense came up big with a sack and we were headed to overtime. You can watch the full overtime period below.
They had done it. The Golden Bears of Mount Juliet stayed undefeated and kept an undefeated regular season and a district championship in The Mayors Cup on the table. Mount Juliet had come back from 28-7 in amazing fashion showing great mental toughness and escaped (and I mean barely escaped) with a 38-31 victory.
Our MVP is Tyler Travers of Mount Juliet. Tyler was a big part of the reason the Golden Bears were able to come back in the second half after being down 28-7 in the first. You can hear everything Tyler had to say below.