Abston runs for three scores, adds another as Blue Devils snap 13-game losing streak to Golden Bears
MURFREESBORO – The last time Lebanon defeated Mt. Juliet, most of the current Blue Devils weren’t even in school yet.
Friday, they celebrated with the joy of children after busting a 12-game losing streak to their longtime rivals, doing so in style with a 35-0 victory over the visiting Golden Bears at Clifton Tribble Field.
Lebanon’s previous victory in the series came in 2008, a 41-21 victory at Mt. Juliet. The shutout was the first for Lebanon in the series since a 13-0 victory in 1994.
“We had the mindset that we hadn’t beaten (Mt. Juliet) in 12, 13 years,” Abston said. “So we came out with the mindset of finishing that streak of them beating us.”
This year’s version saw Lebanon’s defense keep the Golden Bears (6-2) from sustaining many drives beyond a 4:37 series to open the contest. But even that advance stalled near midfield, and Lebanon went to work grinding down the Mt. Juliet defense.
Jaylen Abston put Lebanon on the board first, finding Kemontez Logue on fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line to end the Blue Devils’ opening series. That drive lasted 6:34 for 12 plays and saw Lebanon overcome a pair of holding calls on it.
That was all the scoring the Blue Devils ended up needing, but Abston added to it for good measure in the second quarter, plowing in from two yards out with 3:43 remaining in the first half.
“Our (offensive) line’s been great,” Abston said. “Without them, we wouldn’t be winning.”
Mt. Juliet’s last-minute attempt to find points was thwarted by Anthony Crowell, who stepped in front of a Stephen Swoner pass and raced 70 yards to give Lebanon a 21-0 lead the Blue Devils took to halftime.
“Hats off to Lebanon for a well-executed game plan,” Mt. Juliet head coach Trey Perry said. “They have a solid 6A football team. Mt. Juliet’s issues lie solely at the feet of the head coach.”
An 11-play series ended in Abston’s second rushing touchdown, a 2-yarder with 4:12 left in the third quarter. The Blue Devils had a chance to start the mercy rule running clock shortly thereafter, but failed on fourth down from Mt. Juliet’s 9-yard line on the next series.
Abston did find the end zone again in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard run with 4:24 remaining.
“(Abston) texted me on Sunday, talking about running the ball and stuff,” Gentry said. “I’ve tried to, I guess, take care of him all year, but I told him ‘alright, let’s take the reins off, we’ve got a week to rest.’ And he’s taken ownership of that offense.”
Mt. Juliet didn’t reach Lebanon’s 40-yard line until the final series when Devonta Ford ripped off five consecutive runs to convert a pair of first downs before time ran out.
“Our defensive staff and our kids did a tremendous job of executing the game plan,” Gentry said. “We got Copeland Bradford back, which gave us a spark. He’s such an intelligent football player.”
The 7-1 start for Lebanon is their best since 1993, when the Blue Devils went 9-1 in the regular season en route to a 10-2 finish.
Mt. Juliet suffered its second consecutive loss after falling 28-27 at Station Camp on Sept. 30.
Both teams are off for their open dates next week. Lebanon hosts Gallatin on Oct. 22, while Mt. Juliet hosts Hillsboro the same evening.