The William Blount football team couldn’t find a spark on offense in the first quarter of Friday night’s Region 2-6A game at Heritage.

Just as the Governors got rolling, so did the storm clouds into Heritage. But a lightning delay didn’t deter William Blount from sustaining momentum en route to a 44-7 victory in the 41st Battle of the Bell between the rival Blount County schools.

“I think we just came into the game too cocky thinking that we were going to have the game,” said Micah Franklin, William Blount’s top running back. “Then, after we went into the halftime, we realized what we needed to work on.”

The Mountaineers (0-4, 0-2 Region 2-6A) struck first before William Blount (2-2, 1-1) scored 16 unanswered points in the second quarter to enter halftime ahead 16-7. As the third quarter was about the get underway, lightning lit up the sky, putting the game on hold for the next hour and a half.

The Governors kept their foot on the gas with 28 second-half points.

“We had an hour-and-a-half to really think about things,” William Blount running back Seth Cooper said. “We had an offensive meeting where we really just went over the basics — stuff that went back to spring practice. We just basically got our heads screwed back on and played our brand of football.”

Cooper scored two touchdowns in the second half to help spark the Govs to victory.

Heritage — looking for its first win in two years — got off to a strong start, which seemed to temporarily throw the Govs off their game. After forcing a 3-and-out on William Blount’s opening drive, the Mountaineers moved the ball 28 yards to the Governors’ 22.

Holding and block-in-the-back penalties thwarted Heritage’s progress, and the Mountaineers were forced to punt it away on fourth-and-25.

Heritage’s defense continued to step up throughout the first quarter. After forcing another 3-and-out, it recovered a William Blount fumble that set up the Mountaineers on the Govs’ 10. Heritage’s Triston Hurst capitalized three plays later, scoring from five yards out on a fake reverse to put Heritage ahead 7-0 with 1:35 left in the first quarter.

“It was really eye-opening because we realized they’re in this game,” Cooper said. “We let them stay in the game and were not putting them away. Then, we came in after the second half, and the rest is history.”

“I didn’t feel like we were very focused, which is unbelievable in a rivalry game,” {span}William Blount coach Philip Shadowens added.{/span}

It was the last time Heritage would find the end zone.

The Govs woke up on their next possession following Heritage’s score, walking away with points on their next three drives. Bryston Williams got things started when he converted a screen pass into a 38-yard gain. William Blount quarterback Trey Clemmer capped the seven-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to tie the score 7-7 with 10:53 left in the half.

Job Matossian made it 13-7 two minutes later when the sophomore leaped up for a 50-50 ball and came down with it, taking it to the end zone for a 55-yard touchdown from Clemmer.

Also a kicker, Matossian rounded out William Blount’s second-quarter scoring with a 36-yard field goal to give the Govs a 16-7 halftime advantage.

Just as the teams lined up for the second-half kickoff, lightning forced a delay. Play didn’t get back underway until after 10:30 p.m.

“The offensive line had a little bit of work to do in the first half, but they picked it up in the second,” Franklin said. “(We talked about) the want-to. This is a rivalry game and everybody here just wants to keep the bell at the school.”

The Govs scored on their first drive of the half, during which Franklin rushed for 46 yards on five carries. Clemmer capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown to put the Govs ahead 23-7 with 8:10 left in the third quarter.

Cooper’s 11-yard rushing touchdown made it 30-7 with two minutes left in the third. In the fourth quarter, Clemmer connected with Noah Durman, who also had two interceptions, for a 20-yard score before Cooper found the end zone again on a 3-yard run.

Last season, Heritage trailed William Blount by 34 points at halftime en route to a 48-6 loss. The Governors have won nine of the last 11 matchups against Heritage.

“I thought we played well in the second half – we looked kind of like William Blount,” Shadowens said. “After the and hour-and-a-half break, they came out in the second half and did the things they’re supposed to do, so I was proud of those kids.”

Follow @TaylorVortherms on Twitter for more from sports reporter Taylor Vortherms.

Sports Writer

Taylor is a University of Missouri graduate, who worked in Maine covering sports before moving to Maryville in 2018.

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