GALLATIN Beech took a big step toward securing second place in Region 6-5A with a 28-6 victory at Station Camp.
The Buccaneers (6-2 overall, 4-1 in Region 6-5A) remained a game behind first-place Cane Ridge, while the Bison (3-5, 1-4) fell to seventh, a half-game behind idle Hunters Lane.
Five things to take away from the Buccaneers’ victory:
Take a pick
The Beech defense harassed Station Camp quarterback Tyler Thompson, picking off the senior signal caller three times in the first half.
Beech’s Jahmal Robinson picked off Thompson on the fourth play of the contest, followed by Alex Vanzant’s second quarter interception.
The big blow may have come just as the Bison were trying to get to halftime. With less than five seconds left before halftime and Station Camp trailing 14-0, Thompson’s pass was deflected by defensive lineman Brad Montgomery and deflected to fellow lineman Logan Fetzer, who went 15 yards for the touchdown. Fetzer said …”my brother Brad Montgomery tipped it, and it came to me. It was the first career interception and touchdown for me.”
Beech head coach Anthony Crabtree felt that it was a huge play for his team going into halftime. “We had the ball and moved it some, but maybe not score as much as we would want, but the interception was a big play for us to give us some room.”
Converting defense into offense
Beech running back Alex Vanzant had 18 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown, but his most important run didn’t get them in the end zone. His biggest run sure got him away from the Beech end zone, however.
The Beech defense stopped a 15-play, 82-yard Station Camp drive when the Bison had fourth-and-goal to go from the 1-yard line. Station Camp’s Austin King attempted to go around right end for the score, but was met by linebacker Heath Crabtree, who stopped King short of the goal line.
After the turnover on downs, Vanzant took the handoff on the next play and raced 58 yards to swing the field position and – according to Station Camp coach Shaun Hollinsworth – the game.
“That was such a big play because we went on a long drive, and though we didn’t score, we had them pinned deep,” Hollinsworth said. “When you are in tight like that, one missed tackle and it’s a big play, and we let them get out from there which you can’t do.”
Ball control was key for both teams going in, but Beech controlled the pace with its ground game. The Buccaneers rolled up 156 yards in the first half on the ground, while limiting Station Camp to 141 yards in the first half with 82 of that coming on the Bison’s second drive of the game.
Station Camp, however, did make adjustments in the second half, limiting Beech to only 54 yards on the ground. Beech did just enough with quarterback Nelson Smith, who completed 5-of-6 passes for 72 yards.
After tossing for nearly 300 yards in a 24-12 loss to Hendersonville the previous week, Thompson was constantly harassed by the Beech defense, who limited Thompson to 182 yards through the air. Most of that yardage came in the final quarter when the Bison trailed 21-0.
Fetzer sacked Thompson twice, and Thompson was hurried constantly. Station Camp rolled Thompson out several times to protect him, but his struggles, were coupled with the fact that the Station Camp run game struggled to consistently gain traction.
Running back Kaemon Dunlap’s 66 yards on 17 carries paced the Bison, but Station Camp struggled to get much else on the ground.
For the record
Crabtree picked up his 100th career victory as head coach – all at Beech – with Friday’s victory. Crabtree is 100-42 overall, including two Buccaneers’ Class 5A state title runs in 2009 and 2012. Most everyone knew about the imminent feat – except for Crabtree.
“The cheerleaders had a sign that they made up at the end of the game, but I didn’t know anything about it, Crabtree said. “I don’t pay attention to things like that, but it’s good for the team that we’ve won these games, and it does feel good to have my middle and youngest sons (Heath and Will, respectively) on the team with this happening.
The series between Station Camp and Beech is trending in an unfavorable direction for the Bison. Station Camp won the first contest in 2007 between the two teams, but has now lost 10 straight to its district and cross-county rival.