CHURCH HILL – Volunteer’s Cameron Johnson (23-108) and Peyton Derrick (16-105) combined for 223 yards rushing and Johnson scored three touchdowns to help lead the Falcons to a 37-28 non-conference victory over Sullivan Central.
Central forged a 14-13 lead in the first quarter but Volunteer would tack on 15 points in the second quarter to build a 28-14 advantage at the half and withstood a late charge by the Cougars to win their opener.
The Falcons second-year head coach Justin Pressley said he was really happy for the kids to finally post a victory after going three years without a home victory.
“They did a great job tonight and I am really proud of the kids,” said Pressley. “It was a shootout early and those games in the past had not worked out in our favor but they just kept going tonight.
“We fought and fought and turned it on. That is what we have been teaching them to learn to do is when you get a team down you put your foot on the gas, we did that tonight and turned it on.”
Pressley noted the defense make some mistakes on the back end but thankfully we did not have a lot of mistakes on offense other than some miscommunications but overall, I’m really excited.
“They handled a big moment at home and came away with a win,” added the Falcon coach. “We have a lot of guys doing a lot of good things so we just have to keep getting better.”
Volunteer’s defense forced a punt on the Cougars’ opening possession and wasted no time taking it to the double stripes. Sophomore quarterback Garrison Barrett guided the Falcons 55 yards in eight plays capped off by Johnson’s first of three touchdowns on a three-yard run but the visitors would answer.
Quarterback Will Nottingham connected with Bryson Crabtree on a 45-yard pass to the Falcons’ 19 and seven plays later the pair hooked up for a six-yard touchdown pass too even the score at 7-7.
Johnson added his second six-pointer on Volunteer’s next possession before Nottingham almost single-handedly gave the visitors a 14-13 advantage.
The junior signal-caller connected with Preston Staubus for 16 yards and Cameron Lambert on a 12-yard strike to the Falcons’ 25 and Nottingham added two runs of 13 and 12 yards and Lambert booted the PAT to give the visitors a 14-13 advantage.
The teams then traded interceptions. Alex Helton for the Cougars and Jacob Gladson for Volunteer. The Falcon offense would add two more scores to give the home team a 28-14 advantage at the intermission. Johnson scored a two-yard run and Barrett capped a 60-yard drive on a one-yard run.
Dawson Dykes booted a 25-yard field goal to extend the Falcons’ advantage to 31-14 but the visitors kept battling. Nottingham scored on a 13-yard run.
Volunteer’s Peyton Derrick added a touchdown on a 14-yard run before Nottingham answered with a 13-yard touchdown strike to Preston Staubus to trim the Falcons lead to 37-28 but they would get closer.
“Our offensive line struggled big-time last week at CAK but this week they came out and absolutely dominated,” added Pressley. “They blocked really well. We got our running game going. How about the offense especially Payton (Derrick)? He is a workhorse.
“Cam Johnson plays on both sides of the ball. Eli (Dorton) caught a pass as a receiver, he ran one and did a lot of everything. We are slowly putting what we wanted together. We just have to keep grinding.”
Derrick said it had been over two years since the Falcons’ won at home and that is great and he was glad to do his part in making it happen.
“Everybody is excited,” said Derrick. “We just have to keep going and do what we did tonight. I finally got into the end zone. Cam (Johnson) played amazing tonight. He scored three times but I want to see him score more.”
Sullivan Central 14 0 0 14 — 28
Volunteer 13 15 3 6 — 37
Volunteer — Cam Johnson 3 run (Dawson Dykes kick)
Sullivan Central — Bryson Crabtree 6 run (Cameron Lambert kick)
Volunteer – Johnson 5 run (kick blocked)
Sullivan Central — Will Nottingham 12 run (Lambert kick)
Volunteer – Johnson 2 run (Eli Dorton run)
Volunteer – Garrison Barrett 1 run (Dykes kick)
Volunteer – Dykes 25 FG
Sullivan Central – Nottingham 13 run (pass failed)
Sullivan Central – Preston Staubus 10 pass from Nottingham (Cameron Lambert pass from Nottingham)
First Downs 15 24
Rushes-Yards 22-95 52-267
Passing Yards 205 108
Comp-Att-Int 15-28-1 9-14-1
TOTAL OFFENSE 287 375
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Punts-Avg. 1-36.0 3-23.3
Penalties-Yards 5-47 10-83