SHACKLE ISLAND — Beech locked up at least the two seed for the upcoming Region 5-6A playoff Friday night with a convincing 49-17 victory over Gallatin High School.
The win for Beech is their 10th in-a-row over Gallatin and their 11th win in the last 12 meetings.
Running back Patrick Hill finished with a healthy 237 rushing yards on 20 carries and four touchdowns.
“My teammates have been amazing at opening the holes, which allow me to slip through for a big breakout game again, so I want to thank them,” Hill said after the win.
The senior’s 200-yard performance is his second in-a-row after rushing for 200+ at Springfield in Week 8 action, all while dealing with a shoulder injury.
“He is a tough competitor, has a banged-up shoulder, but he knows there is not much he can do with it at this point,” Beech head coach Anthony Crabtree said. “When he decides he wants to be tough and stick it up in there and run the ball like he is, he is an excellent running back — our best guy. It makes us better when he did what he did tonight.”
In the end, Beech tallied over 400 yards of offense, including 176 passing yards to several different receivers — Andrew Paige (3 catches, 62 yards), Jackson Long (2 catches, 32 yards), Errin Jolley (3 catches, 73 yards), JP Courtney (1 catch, 6 yards).
Beech deployed four different quarterbacks against Gallatin, including starter Jackson Ford, JP Courtney, Trent Sheely, and Brian Rager.
“They all have different strengths, so we want to play them in situations based on what they can do and how they help us the most, and that is what you saw tonight,” Crabtree said. “We feel like we found our niche a little bit on offense, so we want to continue getting better each week.”
Of the four quarterbacks to play, Trent Sheely has come on strong since action at Hendersonville. The older of the quarterbacks brings confidence, according to Crabtree.
“He has a little moxie in him and understands the game, has confidence in himself, and he brings that to the huddle, and the guys respond,” he said.
As for the game between the white lines, Gallatin opened the contest up striking first and striking fast, taking a 95-yard kickoff return to the paint for the 7-0 lead. Kicker Ashton Kelley finished a perfect 2-for-2 on extra points and 1-1 on field goals.
However, the rest of the game belonged to Beech.
After forcing a punt on their first defensive series, Beech marched 49 yards before a Patrick Hill touchdown from a few yards out tied the contest at 7-7. Nik Krall connected on all of his estate point attempts.
Hill pushed the Bucs in front for good, 14-7, with 2:35 left in the first quarter on a one-yard plunge into the paint. A 31-yard pitch-and-catch set up the play from Ford to Paige.
The Bucs scored 14 consecutive points for a 28-7 halftime lead, thanks to scores from Paige and Jackson Long.
Starting the second half on their own-22, Beech marched to the Gallatin 32 yard line before Hill busted through the middle for the long run and score 35-7.
Junior Luke Cook came on for Gallatin in the third quarter after quarterback Dee Sullivan left the game with bruised ribs. No. 11 played well for the Green Wave, scoring from 45 yards out with 5:37 left in the game to trim the Beech lead to 35-14.
He also had two more scores called back for holding penalties.
Gallatin knocked home their final score of the night with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter when Kelley kicked home a 47-yard field goal to cut the Beech lead, 42-17.
Cornerback Isaac Talbot put the game on ice with a pick-six with less than one minute to play, using the Bucs to 6-2 on the season and 3-1 in league play.
The loss drops Gallatin to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in region action. Both teams have locked up a playoff spot, but the Green Wave will be playing for the three-seed in two weeks when they host Clarksville.
“They did an excellent job of running the football on us — they had a great game plan,” Gallatin coach Chad Watson said. “Luke does an outstanding job for us in the second half at quarterback. He earned the right to play moving forward — we want Dee healthy moving forward.”
With the playoffs on the horizon, Watson says the Green Wave will continue to be the best version we can be.
“We want to win a playoff game,” Watson said. “I thought our kids competed hard tonight, fought the entire game — I’m proud of them for that.”
Beech will travel to Brentwood next week while Gallatin hits the road for Lebanon.