Blount Press Row

Fire on the Mountain

Heritage ties school-record in district rout of Bearden

_MG_7901Mountaineer quarterback Dustin Richardson threw for three scores and ran for a fourth on Friday. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

When’s the last time Heritage hung 50 on somebody?

Tony Crowe (34) and Codey Clabough (42) lead a swarm of Mountaineers to the ball.

Tony Crowe (34) and Codey Clabough (42) lead a swarm of Mountaineers to the ball.

When’s the last time the Mountaineers subjected an opponent to the mercy rule?

You’d have to go all the way back to 1982 and one of the best teams in school history to find an equal to the record-tying shellacking the Mountaineers dealt Bearden Friday night at James D. Lillard Field.

Dustin Richardson threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns, with backup Cameron Carter adding a fourth scoring toss, and the Mountaineers routed the Bulldogs, 50-14, in an early season district clash.

Heritage ripped Knox West, 50-8, in 1982, a season where the Mountaineers finished 9-2 after wins over Alcoa, 27-14, Maryville, 11-0, and William Blount, 30-6, to end the year Blount County champions.

Heritage (1-1, 1-0 District 4AAA) got a huge night from senior wide out Devin Gardner, who delivered back-to-back touchdown grabs of 70 and 58 yards early in the opening quarter.

Senior Devin Gardner had two touchdown receptions, a conversion catch and an interception in the opening half.

Senior Devin Gardner had two touchdown receptions, a conversion catch and an interception in the opening half.

Gardner, whose conversion catch put Heritage out front, 15-2, with seven minutes to play in the first, finished with 134 yards receiving, adding an interception in the end zone at the halftime horn.

Heritage, which put an opponent beneath the mercy rule for the first time ever, also got touchdown catches from Hunter Terry and Zach Amburn of 37 and 78 yards, respectively.

Richardson scampered a yard around left end for a fifth Heritage score. Fullback Orlando Bledsoe added a 4-yard run for a sixth, with Bledsoe scooping up a Bearden fumble and racing 23 yards for a seventh.

It was 43-8 Heritage at the half, a far cry from the game’s first two snaps.

Center Chris Lim’s first two shotgun snaps sailed over Richardson’s head, the second covered in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 Bearden lead after the game’s first possession.

“Instead of getting irate, we just put the next guy in and said, ‘Let’s play some ball,’” Heritage coach Tim Hammontree.

The Bulldogs (0-3, 0-1) wouldn’t score again until the Mountaineers had rung up a 43-2 lead.

Part of the reason was Lim, who moved full-time to defense after the early miscues, with sophomore Joe Dennis taking over at center.

Issac Overbay (42) and Gardner meet at Bearden running back Malik Samba.

Issac Overbay (42) and Gardner meet at Bearden running back Malik Samba.

Bearden took over first-and-10 at the Heritage 35 on the series following the safety. Lim knifed through to drop Bearden’s Logan Peterson for a short gain on second down. The Bulldogs punted on fourth-and-13 two plays later.

“I just wanted to help my teammates the best way I could,” Lim said. “(Mountaineer assistant) coach (Josh) Profit said, ‘Pick it up. We need you on defense.”

It was all Heritage from there.

The Mountaineer offensive eruption is easy to grasp. With Heritage spreading the field with four receivers, Richardson read Bearden’s coverage to perfection and picked the Bulldogs apart.

“We practiced for that all week and took advantage of it,” Richardson said.

Gardner’s first score came with the baseball centerfielder in the slot and no one deep in the Bearden secondary.

“There was no one there,” Gardner said. “Dustin made a great read and threw a great pass.”

Terry consistently burned the Bulldogs on the other side.

Devin Harris set up the Bledsoe scoring run with a leaping, 37-yard grab at the Bearden 4-yard line.

The Mountaineers saw several players lead the charge defensively to ensure the Bulldogs never rallied.

 Mountaineer backup Cameron Carter attempts to free himself from Bearden's

Mountaineer backup Cameron Carter attempts to free himself from Bearden’s Griffin DeLong.

With Bearden in third-and-3 at their own 40, down 15-2 with six minutes to play in the first, safety Keith Kircher barged through to throw Bulldog quarterback Cameron Jones for a 2-yard loss and force a punt.

Linebacker Jonathan Johnson did much the same thing on the next Bearden possession, turning a second-and-5 into third-and-6. Cornerback Kyle Valentine broke up a Bearden pass on the next play.

One Bulldog possession later, Valentine collected the first of two Heritage interceptions in the half.

With Bearden down 36-2, with seven minutes to play in the half, defensive end Cameron Omstead forced a Bearden fumble, with Bledsoe scooping up the pigskin on the run to blow the contest well open, 43-2, with 6:49 remaining until the break.

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