MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet knew they would get all they could handle when Warren County, led by Class 6A Mr. Football semifinalist C.J. Taylor, came to town, and that’s exactly what they got.
Golden Bear defenders knew they would have to key in on the Pioneer quarterback, and while he ran for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 14 carries, they still found a way to come away with a win in dramatic fashion, scoring with 17 seconds to play for a 17-13 victory.
It was a defensive battle from the beginning, as Mt. Juliet (7-3) forced a Taylor fumble midway through the first quarter. It led to the only points of the first half by either team on a 24-yard Mt. Juliet field goal by Connor Kowalski. Forcing turnovers continued to be the strong suit for the Golden Bear defense, as they stripped Pioneer running back Ryland Holder after an 80-yard run right as he was about to cross the goal line.
Both teams entered the locker room at halftime with adjustments needing to be made offensively, and both seemingly did.
Mt. Juliet opened the second half with a long touchdown drive that ended on a 4-yard pass from quarterback Stephen Swoner to Osize Daniyan, extending the Golden Bears’ lead to 10-0. The Pioneers (8-3) quickly answered with a long touchdown drive of their own, capped off by Taylor’s 13-yard touchdown run. Taylor continued to be a problem for the Golden Bears, as he busted off a 69-yard touchdown run to give the Pioneers a 13-10 lead with 4:23 left in the game.
Mt. Juliet knew its season came down to one final drive.
“We knew it was crunch time and that we had to get the job done.” said Golden Bears quarterback Stephen Swoner.
And that’s exactly what they did. Mt. Juliet methodically moved the ball down the field on that final drive, running as much time off the clock as possible, before finally punching in it from one yard out on a touchdown run by Amarion Workings. The Golden Bears delivered and will get to see their season continue on to the second round.
Mt. Juliet will travel to play Oakland next week in the second round of the TSSAA 6A playoffs.