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Hilltoppers fall short of region title in loss to Bearden

Douglas Fritz • Nov 1, 2019 at 11:22 PM

It was like watching Science Hill’s entire football season play out in one game.

The Hilltoppers did a lot of good things, but what Science Hill couldn’t do left it short of a region championship. Surrendering that honor back to rival Dobyns-Bennett one week after beating the Indians, Science Hill fell 31-20 to Knox Bearden on Friday night at Tipton Stadium.

Science Hill fell to 4-6 overall and will finish with a losing season unless it can go on the road in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs and shock No. 2-ranked Maryville.

“We just all have to get together and take responsibility for this, and just move forward,” said Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter. “We’ve got some great kids. We just didn’t get it done tonight. We really didn’t. We had opportunities. We had spots we could have done it. We just didn’t get the plays done tonight.”

The Hilltoppers ended up 4-2 in region play in a three-way tie with Bearden and Farragut, which got the No. 2 seed because it defeated both Science Hill and Bearden (4-6).

PLAY OF THE GAME

Trailing 24-20, Science Hill needed the ball back in the late stages of the fourth quarter. It was second and eight from Bearden’s 22-yard line. The Hilltoppers rushed quarterback Collin Ironside, and appeared to have him sacked near the 5-yard line. Ironside got free and turned the play into a 19-yard gain. Instead of third and 25, it was first and 10.

“We were already up, so I just didn’t want to make any stupid mistakes or anything,” said Ironside. “The pocket kind of crashed pretty quick. So I just got out of there, and there was a huge gap on the left side. I was able to get a big-time first down.”

On the same drive, Ironside rushed for a 32-yard gain on third and eight. He finished with 136 yards rushing on 15 carries while also passing for 159 yards and three scores.

“He made some big plays with his feet,” said Carter. “He’s a good kid. He’s a four-year starter. He made plays with his legs and extended those plays. We had him. Those plays just killed us.”

THE FIRST HALF

The problems started in the first half with the score tied at 7-7. Science Hill was on the move in Bearden territory and tried a reverse. The ball was fumbled and Bearden recovered in Hilltoppers’ territory, following that up with a touchdown drive capped off by a 3-yard scoring pass from Ironside to Hayden Candela.

Trailing 14-7, the Hilltoppers later blocked a field goal attempt by Bearden. But they followed it up with an interception.

Science Hill got the ball back and had a nice drive before halftime, but had to settle for Kade Hensley’s 30-yard field goal.

GOOD START AFTER HALFTIME

Science Hill’s best drive of the game was capped off by Chris Thomas’ 3-yard scoring run to make it 17-14. Bearden tied the game on Connor Cross’ 24-yard field goal.

The Bulldogs went ahead 24-17 early in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard scoring pass from Ironside to Carson Hammond.

SCIENCE HILL STATS

Chris Thomas had 21 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown. Batchelder completed only 13 of 34 pass attempts, but totaled 237 yards and a touchdown. Solomon Dunn had three catches for 88 yards while Marquis Griffin totaled three catches for 86 yards.

Hensley’s two field goals gave him 12 for the season, the seventh-best total in Tennessee history.

FOR BEARDEN

Makai Williams had 27 carries for 114 yards as Bearden racked up 282 yards on the ground. Candela had eight catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns.

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