ELIZABETHTON — Sullivan East’s remarkable turnaround continued Friday night at Happy Valley.
One year after going 0-10, the Patriots improved to 2-1 in the Three Rivers Conference and 5-1 overall with a 28-0 victory over the Warriors.
East’s advantage was obvious.
Controlling the line of scrimmage, the Patriots outgained the Warriors 238 to 105 on the ground. It included a first half when Happy Valley was held to 18 rushing yards on 14 carries and committed two costly turnovers.
Although the Warriors routed the Patriots 55-0 a year ago, East head coach Mike Locke said it didn’t serve as the motivation.
“We didn’t look at last year,” Locke said. “This is a new day, a new team and we had a great week of practice. I thought we were going to play well tonight.
“I didn’t know what that meant, but we had just two penalties, one when we were trying to kill the clock at the end of the first half, so we didn’t hurt ourselves. It was a pretty clean game for us all the way around.”
It was a sloppy game in an up-and-down season for the Warriors. Happy Valley, which has a 1-2 league record, fell to 4-3 overall. The three losses have all been shutouts with a combined total of 98-0.
Head coach Larry Shively said Friday’s loss could be explained as simple as “Football 101.”
“They controlled both lines of scrimmage,” Shively said. “In most football games from pee-wees all the way up to the pros, that’s where games are won and lost.
“But, we can’t help them out. I mean we turn the ball over and have a big mistake on special teams. They’re a good football team and you can’t help them out at all.”
The Patriots got on the scoreboard first as Daniel Truett threw a jump ball toward the left sideline. Chance Davis, the Patriots’ 6-foot-4 wide receiver picked a tipped ball out of the air and then went in 38 yards for a touchdown.
It didn’t take long for Sullivan East to strike again as Nick Gentry recovered a Happy Valley fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Six plays later, Truett ran in four yards for a 14-0 lead.
“Getting the fumbled kickoff and the tipped pass, that gave us a lot of energy,” Locke said. “I don’t think we ever relinquished that energy that came from that. That was big early in the game.”
The lead remained 14-0 the rest of the half, as Happy Valley had the ball in Patriot territory three times, but wasn’t able to convert any scoring opportunities.
Receiving the ball to start the second half, the Warriors moved the ball down to the Patriot 35 before the drive stalled. East then countered with a back-breaking 12-play, 83-yard drive capped off by Truett’s one-yard stretch into the end zone.
After Happy Valley failed to convert a fourth-down attempt in the fourth quarter, Truett put the finishing touches on the game with a another one-yard plunge.
Although most of the pre-game attention was paid to the Patriots’ record-setting running back Austin Glover who ended with 18 carries for 98 yards, Truett did more of the damage. The senior quarterback had 110 rushing yards on 17 carries, 57 passing yards and accounted for all four touchdowns.
“We’re lucky to have somebody else who is a threat back there,” Locke said. “We saw they were trying to take Glover away, so Daniel stepped up and did a nice job tonight.”
On the flip side, the Warriors’ Zack Ball was held to 14 carries for 41 yards and Jaylon Simmons was limited to just five rushes for 34 yards.
“We’re just an arm tackle away from breaking a big run or finishing a block away from a few first downs,” Shively said. “For our football team, the three-yard runs need to turn into 10-yard runs. A lot of times we run through those tackles, but they were just better than us tonight.”
The Warriors have an open date next Friday night which Shively said couldn’t come at a better time. The Patriots go out of conference to play at Hampton.