Blount Press Row

The Next Hurdle

Only turnovers can prevent record-setting Mountaineer season
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Farragut running  back Tanner Thomas prepares to cut back on Heritage’s Issac Overbay. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

East Nashville Magnet has the best defense in the state.

Mountaineer defensive back Hunter Terry fights for the ball with Farragut's Justin Kirkendall.

Mountaineer defensive back Hunter Terry fights for the ball with Justin Kirkendall.

Prior to Friday, the Eagles shut out their first six opponents 264 to zip.

A 36-7 win over Maplewood raised the scoring average against East Nashville’s defense to 1.0 point per game.

Now, if your defense can put the funk down like that, you can turn the ball over all you want. Won’t matter.

Turning the ball over on four straight first half possessions meant everything for Heritage in a 49-30 loss to Farragut on Friday at Jack Renfro Stadium.

The thing that makes it toughest is the 2014 Mountaineers are well within striking distance of the school record for points in a season. With 18 more over their next three games, they’ll overtake the 1985 team – 253 points – for all-time scoring honors through 10 games.

Finishing 11-2, the ’85 Mountaineers tacked on 41 more in three playoff games.

With the emergence of quarterback Dustin Richardson and an at-times fearsome passing attack this season, even that may not be safe. At 33.7 points per game, the 2014 Mountaineers have at least a shot.

Point being, these Mountaineers (2-5, 1-3 District 4AAA) can score like no team the school has ever known. They’re fun to watch. Nights like Friday, Heritage coach Tim Hammontree cautioned, means there’s still work to be done.

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Overbay (27) and Devyn Harris make the stop on Thomas.

“We cannot overcome the mental mistakes because we’re not physical enough to control the ball for that long,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

Heritage struck first Friday, in dramatic fashion. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Devin Gardner slipped behind the Farragut secondary and Richardson found him. Seventy-four yards later, the Mountaineers had the ball at the Admiral 1.

Orlando Bledsoe took the direct snap and powered in over the right side for a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes still to play in the opening quarter.

The next four Heritage possessions all but sealed its fate.

A fumble on third-and-4 stopped a drive at the Farragut 38; another returned the ball to the Admirals (2-5, 2-2) at midfield; interceptions on the next two possessions, one at the Farragut 35, the other on fourth-and-1 at the Admiral 7, aided Farragut in powering to a 28-7 halftime lead.

Farragut quarterback Jacob Naumoff mastered the rain-soaked field and thick fog that made playing conditions almost comical at times. (See video on BPR home page.) Throwing for 213 yards and touchdown passes to Derek Williams and Franklin Stooksbury of 35 and 27 yards, Naumoff directed an Admiral offense that went the distance without a turnover.

Zach Amburn takes the handoff from Dustin Richardson.

Zach Amburn takes the handoff from Dustin Richardson.

Tanner Thomas dashed in and out of the fog to rush for 165 yards and three touchdowns.

Heritage roared back against Farragut reserves in the fourth. Devyn Harris entered the catch of the year balloting with 49-yard hookup from Richardson with nine minutes left. The senior wide out hauled in a second from 8 yards soon after. A Richardson 12-yard run in the final minute did much to keep a legacy item like a school scoring record within reach.

That last little bit isn’t going to be easy.

It never is.

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