By Ken Lay
Maryville High School showed why it has the top team in the state of Tennessee Friday night.
The Rebels scored on their first four possessions en route to a 41-0 victory over host Bearden at Bill Young Field. It was Maryville’s 36th consecutive win and the Rebels’ first shutout of the 2015 season.
“Maryville is the mountain that everybody’s got to climb,” Bearden coach Morgan Shinlever said. “This game was a measuring stick.”
If that was the case, then the Bulldogs (3-3 overall, 1-2 in Region 1-6A), who have already tripled its win total from 2014, still has a lot of work to do.
Bearden’s woes started early after it was unable to capitalize on a pass interference penalty on its first play from scrimmage.
The Bulldogs caught a break when quarterback Cam Jones lofted a deep ball and receiver Ty Chandler got tangled up with a Maryville defender and the Rebels were flagged for a 15-yard penalty giving Bearden possession at its own 37-yard line.
From there, the Rebels (6-0, 3-0) stiffened their defense and forced Bearden to punt and went on to dominate the first half. Bearden was held to one first down in the first half (that was also due to a penalty against Maryville).
The Rebels scored early in the first quarter when junior running back Jordan Ervin, who returned to action after missing a month due to a concussion he suffered in Maryville’s 49-18 victory over Fulton on Aug. 29, had a 5-yard scoring run.
Maryville went up 14-0 late in the opening frame when Kelby Brock caught a 26-yard pass from Dylan Hopkins.
One of Maryville’s other quarterback, Austin Ensley had a pair of touchdown runs (9 yards and 1 yard respectively) to give the Rebels a 27-0 lead by first half’s end.
The Rebels then struggled late in the first half. They dropped several passes and missed a field goal on the final play before halftime.
“We were sloppy,” Maryville coach George Quarles said. “We made a lot of plays, but we dropped a lot of balls.
“Our message at the half was that we’ve got to clean that up.”
The Rebels, who held Bearden to 24 yards in the first half, got the message. They wasted little time getting on the scoreboard after the break.
After a long kickoff return to open the third quarter, it took the Rebels just two plays to get into the end zone. Ensley’s 45-yard run moved the ball to the Bearden 1-yard line and from there, Michael Hall scored on a plunge that extended Maryville’s advantage to 34-0.
Ervin, who finished with 96 yards, scored the game’s final touchdown later in the third stanza.
The Bulldogs, who can’t wait to put the game in the rear-view mirror, must now prepare for this week’s game at Bradley Central.
“This is a learning experience,” said Bulldogs’ senior quarterback Cam Jones. “Defensively, I thought we did a pretty good job holding them to a certain number of points.
“But offensively, we’ve got to execute and cut out the mental mistakes and we’ve got to put points on the board.”