Sullivan east football

sullivan east football

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Sports Correspondent

BLUFF CITY, Tenn.—Friday night proved to be a gloomy final chapter for the Sullivan East football team, as the Patriots fell to Volunteer in the regular-season finale for both teams in a gloomy final chapter for the Patriots.

Garrison Barrett surpassed the 5,yard passing milestone for his career and the Falcons locked down their first playoff bid since Volunteer (, ) will be the No. 3 seed out of Region A and will travel to face Fulton, the Region 2 runner-up, next week.

After Cason Christian intercepted East near the Falcons’ goal-line and ran it back for a pick-6, Volunteer led after three quarters, all but securing a season-ending loss for East (, ).

The Patriots kept scrapping until the very end. Sophomore QB Drake Fisher hit Hunter Brown from 5 yards out with remaining in the game to break up the shutout. Then, on what proved to be East’s final offensive play of the season, Fisher connected with Brayden Ringley—a freshman—from 47 yards with seconds showing on the game clock.

“I think there’s a bright future here,” Patriots coach J.C. Simmons said. “We’ve got a lot to work on. It only happens with work and effort and continually striving to get better.

“My guys, they never quit. We fought the whole time,” Simmons added. “Obviously we’re a young group, but losing this senior leadership is going to affect us next year. There’s no quit in the Patriots.”

Heavy rains moved into the area about an hour before kickoff and continued as the game began. Volunteer and East each committed a turnover in the first minute of play, and the two teams combined for eight total miscues on a soaked, sloppy night.

The Falcons turned over the ball five times but still won comfortably, holding East to yards of total offense with most of that coming in the fourth frame. With the usually potent downfield passing game struggling to click, Volunteer relied on its running offense more than usual. Jared Counts led the way with yards on the ground, highlighted by a yard breakaway touchdown run with remaining in the second period. Dawson Dykes added 98 yards including a touchdown, his 13th of the season.

Barrett threw for yards, enough to reach the milestone, and broke the 5,yard barrier on a screen pass to Counts that the senior took for a yard gain. Barrett’s first two completions were both touchdowns, and both to his top target Heath Miller, from 38 and 12 yards, respectively. Barrett also threw three interceptions.

Taylor Cross, Masun Tate and Brown each picked off Barrett once.

“What could we have done if we hadn’t turned the ball over five times?” Volunteer coach Jesse McMillan said. “I never thought we’d have five turnovers.

“I told them at the half, we act like we’ve never been out in the rain before, you know? It’s crazy. We just didn’t play very well on offense.”

With six victories, Volunteer has tied the program record for wins in a single season. The squad could claim the record outright if the Falcons can upend Fulton in the playoffs.

East came in with a slim chance to reach the postseason. The Patriots had to beat Volunteer, and have Seymour upend two-time defending state champ Elizabethton, to claim the fourth spot in Region 1.

Simmons can relate to his seniors on missing the playoffs.

“I had this feeling when I was in high school my senior year. We didn’t make the playoffs and it was kind of like, where do we go from here?” Simmons said. “That’s kind of what football teaches us, right? It doesn’t matter. It’s going to be hard, things are going to change, things are going to be different, and it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to be better, we’ve got to show up tomorrow and whatever it is in life, we’ve got to get better.”

Volunteer 7 12 16 0 — 35

Sullivan East 0 0 0 13 — 13

V - Miller 38 pass from Barrett (Dykes kick)

V - Miller 12 pass from Barrett (pass failed)

V - Dykes 5 run (kick failed)

V - Counts 74 run (Dykes ran)

V - Christian 95 interception return (Counts ran)

SE - Brown 5 pass from Drake Fisher (Hamelryck kick)

SE - Ringley 47 pass from Fisher (kick failed)

Team Stats

First downs: V 14, SE 6; Rushes-yds: V , SE ; Passing yds: V , SE 98; Passing: V , SE ; Fumbles-lost: V , SE ; Punts-avg: V , SE ;

Penalties-yds: V , SE

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