Multiple Teams · Bearden takes big step toward clinching playoff spot with 42-3 rout of HVA


Just two minutes into the first quarter, London Stephney caught a pass from Collin Ironside and turned upfield for a 47-yard touchdown.

It was the start of a big night for Bearden, who went on to beat Hardin Valley 42-3 on Friday night.

“I just try to catch the ball first, then make plays,” the sophomore receiver said.

Stephney ended the night with 3 receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns for Bearden (5-4, 2-3 Region 1-6A)

On the ensuing kickoff, senior E.J. Caldwell went 90 yards for HVA, but the Bulldogs’ defense showed tremendous resilience by stopping the Hawks key running option, senior running back Aaron Dykes, from entering the end zone on two occasions.

The Hawks (4-5, 2-3) settled for a field goal, and immediately after that, Bearden junior running back DJ Cox caught a short pass from Ironside, scampering down the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown.

“If I had to rate tonight’s performance, it would be a 10 out of 10,” Cox said.

Cox ended with 12 carries for 55 yards and caught three passes for 90 yards, two of those going for touchdowns.

Mere moments after Cox’s first touchdown, Bearden forced a fumble. Junior safety Kahlil Abdullah recovered the ball and ran into the end zone to bring the score to 21-3 with 7:01 left in the first quarter.

The win comes after a disappointing 31-14 loss last week to Farragut.

“Our kids just responded well in practice,” Head Coach Morgan Shinlever said. “They knew what they were capable of.”

Ironside completed 12 of 14 passes for 225 yards and three touchdown passes.

“I just put the ball where they can make plays,” Ironside said.

Senior Sam Coffin got a rushing touchdown with a little after seven minutes to go in the third.

The Bulldogs and the Hawks are fighting for the No. 4 spot from Region 1-6A to earn the final spot in the playoffs. If Bearden wins next week or HVA loses, Bearden will clinch a playoff spot.

“Our backs were against the wall,” Coach Shinlever said. “This was a do-or-die game for us. We had to win this game.”

The Bulldogs will travel to Morristown West next Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

“For the first time all year, I think we finally put together four quarters of football,” Coach Shinlever said.