Davidson Academy is making a habit of annual trips to the TSSAA Division II-A BlueCross Bowl.
The Bears defeated visiting Nashville Christian 33-14 on Friday night to earn their third straight trip to Cookeville. Davidson Academy (12-0) will play USJ (11-2) at Tennessee Tech on Thursday, Dec. 3 with a chance to three-peat as state champions.
“It’s awesome, it’s amazing,” Davidson Academy quarterback Jared Vetetoe said. “We’ve worked really hard ever since I was a freshman. We’ve worked really hard up to this point, and we’re looking forward to (the title game).”
Nashville Christian School (9-4) lost three straight games to open the season, including a 35-0 defeat to Davidson Academy on Sept. 4. But the Eagles began trending in the right direction and won nine consecutive games before Friday’s season-ending loss to the Bears.
Davidson Academy was led by a strong night from Vetetoe, who threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to his senior classmates.
Julius Orr opened the scoring on a 35-yard strike from Vetetoe in the first quarter. Griffin Swinea hauled in a touchdown pass just before halftime to give the Bears a 14-point lead at the break, but Nashville Christian running back Martease Edwards ran for a 1-yard score in the third quarter to cut Davidson Academy’s lead to seven.
The Eagles held the Bears scoreless in the third quarter, but Davidson Academy reeled of 19 points in the final 12 minutes to pull away from Nashville Christian.
Tight end Aidan Quinn broke the game open with a 73-yard receiving touchdown in the fourth quarter. His father, Davidson Academy coach Jonathan Quinn, said that play turned the momentum.
“Nashville Christian came out and played very physical with a great surge,” Jonathan Quinn said. “I (thought) our boys stuck with it and kept grinding, and eventually made some plays.”
Swinea, a DII-A Mr. Football finalist, tallied 136 total yards and two touchdowns for the Bears.
“It feels good to have the honor of being Mr. Football, but it’s really about the guys in front of me and the guys around me,” Swinea said. “It’s all about the memories, and another great memory would be another state ring.”
USJ is a familiar opponent to the Bears. Davidson Academy defeated the Bruins 31-21 for the 2019 DII-A state title and won the regular season meeting 31-9 on Oct. 9.
“They’re big up front (and) they’ve got the talent to compete with us,” Swinea said. “They competed pretty well with us last year and in the regular season game this year. We’re gonna have to work for everything we get.”