Beech Beats Brighton
21-3 win for the Bucs – 14-0 headed to the TSSAA 5A State Title Game on Thursday vs Knox Catholic at 7pm
Tickets can be purchased at BHS for $12 – tix will get you into all 3 games on Thursday at TTU.
Story by Zach Womble
HENDERSONVILLE – For the first time since 2012, the Beech Buccaneer football team will play for the ultimate prize – a golden football at the 2017 Blue Cross Bowl in Cookeville, Tennessee on Nov. 30.
Beech secured its third trip to the championship game with a 21-3 victory over Brighton High School on Friday. Bucs running back Kaemon Dunlap led the way with 26 carries for 194 yards and all three Beech touchdowns. As well as the offense played, it was again the Bucs defense that stole the show.
Defensive lineman Delaney Williams finished the game with four tackles for loss with two sacks, and was a key contributor in limiting the Cardinals to less than 200 yards of total offense.
“Just getting to the outside and using my moves,” Williams said. “We are just trying to get another ring, get back to the state championship. I think just our hard work in the weight room and on the practice fields has really gotten us to this point.”
Brighton came into the game averaging over 30 points per game, but the Bucs defense has really played well since the start of the playoffs and it showed again on Friday night.
“The last three or four weeks that unit has really, really stepped up,” Beech coach Anthony Crabtree said. “I think the first game that comes to me off the top of the head that they really hit it out of the park was the second-round matchup with Hillsboro. Every since then it seems like we’ve been on fire.”
The Bucs will carry their 14-0 record into Cookeville on Nov. 30 with a shot at immortality when they face off against Class 5A powerhouse, Knoxville Catholic.
The game may be another David versus Goliath matchup to a lot of people in the state of Tennessee, but for this Bucs program, and those who have followed the team closely, they know what this team is capable of.
“We’ve been studying Knoxville Catholic for a little while now,” senior offensive lineman Jordan Adams said. “We know they have some big boys, but we’ve been playing big boys all year long. We are going to go out there and do what we do which is run the football.”
Both teams exchanged punts to start the game, but it didn’t take long for the Bucs to reach the end zone, as Dunlap scored his first touchdown on a 1-yard run with 9:02 left in the first half. The scoring drive lasted seven plays, spanning 69 yards.
“We’ve got the heart and we are a team,” Adams said. “We believe in our team and believe we can run the ball down anyone’s throats. We are always underestimated but our record shows it all.”
A forced punt by the Bucs defense gave quarterback Nelson Smith and the offense great field position at their own 39 with three minutes left until half. Dunlap carried the ball on five of the six plays before scoring from seven yards out for the 14-0 lead.
“It’s just so amazing to see all this hard work come to fruition,” Smith said. “We talked way before the season and I said this team is full of brothers and we weren’t going down this season without a fight and it’s going to be the same thing Thursday night. We are here to win it.”
The Cardinals added their only three points of the night on their first possession of the second half, gaining 30 yards before settling for the 35-yard field goal with 5:08 left in the third quarter.
Following the first Beech turnover of the game, Brighton was given a golden opportunity to cut the deficit, but again the Bucs defense rose to the occasion. Facing a fourth-and-1 from the Bucs 5-yard line, the Beech defensive line got great penetration up front, recording a tackle for loss and a turnover-on-downs – seemingly deflating the Cardinal faithful.
Beech milked eight-plus minutes off the clock, driving 95 yards for another score and the 21-3 lead. Dunlap carried up the middle for 25 yards for his third score of the night. David Johnson connected on three of his extra points.
The Bucs defense recorded two more stops, earning the victory and a shot at the Class 5A state title.
“I don’t think it will take anything different that it hasn’t the first 14 games,” Crabtree said. “We can’t beat ourselves. (We need to) play Buccaneer football, continuing to make plays on both sides, the kicking game is going to be big and we just have to find a way to win.”
Beech will play Knoxville Catholic for the Class 5A state championship on Thursday, Nov. 30, 7 p.m. at Tucker Stadium in Cookeville, Tennessee.