The Falcons rallied from four points down with 11:07 remaining in the fourth quarter to win their homecoming football game, 24-21, over Sullivan East.
Senior Eli Dorton took over for sophomore Garrison Barrett in the second half and accounted for 106 yards on 5-of-5 passing, 53 additional yards on 10 carries and the last two Volunteer scores. He touched the ball once in the first half.
“We like to get Eli the football in games with the pass, but the way that they were defending us, it was hard to get it to him,” Falcons coach Justin Pressley said. “We liked the box that they were giving us and he has the running ability.
“Garrison did nothing wrong and he’ll be back in that role next week. We want to put the ball in the senior’s hands when the game is on the line.”
Volunteer (2-2) faced a 14-10 deficit at halftime after Patriots quarterback Dylan White kept the ball for an 11-yard score with two seconds left on the clock.
White was a warrior for Sullivan East, accounting for two touchdowns — one rushing and one passing. He was 6-of-17 passing for 57 yards and amassed 78 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
The Patriots (0-3) started the fourth quarter with scoring pass from White to Hunter Brown from 8 yards away, putting them up 21-17 with 11:07 left.
However, Volunteer responded quickly and, with 9:34 to play, Dorton punched it in from 4 yards out to put the Falcons back in front 24-21.
East, with plenty of time, drove to the Volunteer 22-yard line with less than five minutes left. After an Eric Hare 3-yard run, White threw back-to-back incompletions to set up fourth-and-7 with the game on the line.
White got the pass away cleanly and it went into the hands of Lake Mullins, but the ball — and the Patriots’ hopes — fell to the turf.
“We’ve practiced hard all week. We talked about putting the investment in and giving it all on Friday night,” Sullivan East coach Mike Locke said. “We played hard and we battled. ... We should have converted and when (White) was under pressure, he got rid of it.”
Mason Hayworth had eight carries and 101 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, for the Patriots. East mustered a good rushing attack, piling up 242 yards on 41 attempts.
Volunteer also had a solid ground game. Cameron Johnson had 14 carries for 72 yards and senior utilityman Peyton Derrick had seven carries for 43 yards and a score. He also hauled in seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.
“We didn’t have the ball a lot. They had a great game plan and hats off to them,” Pressley said. “Just like Eli, we want to get the ball in (Derrick’s) hands many different ways. We got the ball on the sweep to him and he does a great job getting positive yards.”
Sullivan East will be at home next to face regional opponent Union County.
Volunteer will be on the road next Friday to face rival Cherokee in the Battle of Hawkins County. The Chiefs have won 11 consecutive matchups in the series.
“We can finally say that word. I’ve had it banned around here for a little while,” Pressley said. “It wasn’t pretty and we got the win, but they get what they want now.”
Both games are set to begin at 7:30 p.m.