HENDERSONVILLE - For the second year in a row, bragging rights will stay on Shackle Island. The Beech Buccaneers (4-0, 1-0) handled their business Friday night in the MyTV30 Game of the Week, taking down host Hendersonville (2-2, 1-0) 35-21 at Memorial Stadium.
Beech running back Kaemon Dunlap led all rushers with 33 carries, 317 yards and three touchdowns -- all coming in the second half.
"I had to take a big breath before kickoff," Dunlap said. "This is a big game, TV game, rival game, lots of doubters, but we had to prove them wrong. At the half, we just told ourselves it's 0-0, forget about the fumble and keep on playing the game and keep your head up."
Dunlap earned MyTV30 Player of the Game honors for the second time this season. The first came during the Bucs' win against Henry County at Austin Peay.
"It's exciting to play on TV," he said. "It makes you feel like you're playing at the upper level and it's just really fun."
The Bucs drew first blood just over two minutes into the ball game, when quarterback Nelson Smith found a streaking Ty Dean down the left sideline for 37 yards and the touchdown. Kicker David Johnson connected on all five extra points.
After being forced to punt on its first offensive series, Hendersonville bounced back on its second drive, going 71 yards on six plays for the game-tying Austin Halas 10-yard touchdown reception from Brett Coker. Placekicker Ashton Dodd connected on all three of his extra points. Junior Derek Kincaid led all players with 29 total yards on the scoring drive.
Hendersonville claimed its only lead of the game following a Halas recovered fumble in Beech territory. The black and gold needed just three plays, going 54 yards for the touchdown. The drive was capped by Kincaid's longest run of the night - 50 yards for the score.
Down 14-7 with 7:50 left in the half, Beech responded with its longest drive of the night - 14 plays, 70 yards - chewing up 6:36 off the clock. Smith tied the game on a 1-yard bootleg to the right pylon.
Hendersonville threatened to score before half, moving inside Beech territory, but back-to-back sacks by the defense forced the teams to enter recess tied at 14.
The second half was the Dunlap show. The senior back owned every Beech drive accounting for 171 yards - including runs of 72, 45 and 33 yards. On the first drive of the second half, Dunlap carried the ball three times before running 13 yards for his first score of the night.
"We didn't make the stops we needed to make tonight," Hendersonville coach Bruce Hatfield said. "Dunlap fits what they want to do perfectly and they just outplayed us."
Entering the final 12 minutes, it was anyone's ball game. But after forcing a Commando punt, the Beech offense went back to work. Following a defensive holding call on Hendersonville, Beech faced third-and-9. Dunlap burst through the hole, following his offensive line, outrunning the entire defense for six and the 28-14 advantage with nine minutes remaining.
Hendersonville responded with its only touchdown of the second half on the next drive. The black and gold needed just eight plays to go 80 yards for the score. The two biggest plays of the drive were a Kincaid 25-yard reception and Anthony Hughes' only touchdown of the night - a 38-yard catch down the left sideline with 5:19 remaining.
Beech iced the game on the next drive when Dunlap raced 45 yards to set up the Bucs at the 1-yard line before punching it in for his final touchdown of the night.
Down 35-21 with four minutes remaining, Hendersonville got the ball at its own 20, but was unable to move the chains, falling to Beech for the second-consecutive season.
"There is no such thing is a bad win," Beech coach Anthony Crabtree said. "Obviously, this is our cross-town rival, so it's big for our school, our kids, our community to have a win for bragging rights. Super proud of our guys. Thought we fought back from adversity, couldn't ask for anymore from them than what I got tonight."
Crabtree was quick to acknowledge Dunlap's night on the ground, but was not willing to say the offensive line had the best night of all the units.
"That's hard to say," he said. "It's really hard to pick just one unit. I thought our defense played their tail off. Hendersonville is so good on offense; you will give up plays and we were fortunate to get a couple stops when we had to. That was the difference on the game."
Beech will step back into region play next Friday night at Hunters Lane.
"More importantly, this win for our seniors, (we're) still undefeated going into another region game," Crabtree said. "Our goal is to win the region championship and make the playoffs, so next week is important from that standpoint. The approach is no different than any week. Monday, we go back to work and see if we can get better."
Hendersonville also steps back into region play next week at Lebanon (1-3, 0-1).