Behind Dorton, Falcons edge past Patriots

Tanner Cook • Updated Sep 13, 2019 at 11:33 PM

CHURCH HILL — A halftime change at the quarterback position proved to be a winning move on Friday night for Volunteer.

The Falcons rallied from down four points with 11:07 in the fourth quarter to win the homecoming football game 24-21 over non-conference opponent Sullivan East.

Senior Eli Dorton took over for sophomore Garrison Barrett in the second half and accounted for 106 yards on 5-for-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,” Volunteer head 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 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) trailed at halftime 14-10 after Patriots quarterback Dylan White carried the ball for an 11-yard score with two seconds left on the clock.

White was a warrior on the field for Sullivan East, accounting for two scores — one rushing and one passing. He was 6-for-17 for 57 yards through the air and amassed 78 rushing yards on 15 attempts.


The Patriots (0-3) started the fourth quarter with a passing touchdown from White to Hunter Brown from eight yards away, putting them up 21-17 with 11:07 left in regulation.

However, Volunteer responded quickly and with 9:34 left the Falcons punched it in with a 4-yard score by Dorton to regain the lead at 24-21.

East had plenty of time left and drove the ball down 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 a fourth down and seven with the game on the line.

White got the pass away cleanly and it went into the hands of Lake Mullins, but he dropped the ball and the Patriots’ hopes faded away with the incompletion.

“We’ve practiced hard all week. We talked about putting the investment in and giving it all on Friday night,” Sullivan East head 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.”


For the Patriots, Mason Hayworth had eight carries and 101 yards — including a 61-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

The Patriots mustered a good rushing attack, going for 242 yards on 41 attempts.

Volunteer also had a solid ground game at home. Cameron Johnson had 14 carries for 72 yards and senior utility man Peyton Derrick had seven carries for 43 yards and a score. He also had 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 between the teams.

“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.

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