BEARDEN — After trailing, by three touchdowns in the first quarter against Bearden, it seemed as if the Jefferson County offense had finally sprung to life Friday night at Bill Young Field.
The Patriots scored twice in the second quarter of the game, both on touchdown runs by Tanner Atkins, to cut the Bulldog lead to five points going into the half and had momentum as they got the ball to start the second half.
Then, Bearden woke up.
The Bulldogs (2-5) scored on their first two drives of the second half and pulled away from Jefferson County (3-4), winning 42-22.
“We did have some good grit and fought our way back into the football game, but then we come out and botch a punt and they score,” head coach Spencer Riley. “It’s just not a good thing. You can’t do that.”
In the first quarter, the Bulldogs seemed as if they were going to run away with the game. Bearden started the scoring with a 55-yard touchdown run.
The Patriots did not help themselves out either. On their second possession of the game, Jefferson County’s Tadeo Rosas had his punt blocked which Bearden recovered on the eight-yard line. Bearden scored to make it 14-0.
Then, on the very next possession, Rosas had another punt blocked, this time on the 15-yard line. The Bulldogs would cash in again to make it a 21-0 game.
Bearden blocked one more punt in the game which led to their second touchdown of the third quarter and put the game out of reach.
“You give up 14 points off two block punts, and you just can’t do things like that,” Riley said. “You have to do the little things right to win football games. We have to do the little things better. That’s the first time all season we have had troubles with our punts, getting them blocked.”
Down 21-0, Atkins and the running game got going for Jefferson County. A 49-yard run by Atkins put Jefferson County in the red zone, and Atkins punched it in on fourth down to make it 21-8.
Then Atkins took it again, this time from 18-yards out, and scored just before the half to make it a 21-16 game.
Jefferson County threw just two passes in the first half, but did not need to throw anymore as Atkins took the game over on the ground. Atkins rushed for 134 yards in the first half alone.
“In the first half, we finally got off our goal line (by running the ball),” Riley said. “He (Atkins) is a gritty kid.”
The Patriots closed their scoring out in the fourth quarter on a three-yard touchdown run by Layne Holt.
The Jefferson County defense helped their offense out as well. On Bearden’s first drive of the game, Jefferson County’s Bradee McCoy picked off a pass to set the Patriots up in good field position. Then, in the second quarter, the defense was at it again as Nick Kelly picked off a pass. That interception led to Jefferson County’s second touchdown.
“We created some turnovers and stopped some drives,” Riley said. “We gave us some extra drives in the first half that allowed us back into the game.”
However, the defensive effort was not enough as Bearden started three drives inside their own 20-yard line thanks to the blocked punts.
Jefferson County will be back in action next Friday as they return home to take on Hardin Valley. The Patriots will look to break a five-game losing streak.
“We just need to throw the football better and keep people honest,” Riley said. “We can run the football with anybody, but we have to be able to throw the football moving forward.”