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Highlanders handle Devils, 28-9

Homecoming night was a night of ups and downs for the Devils.
Unicoi County (2-4) (1-1 Three Rivers Conference) would lead going into halftime at Gentry Stadium 9-7 but the Highlanders of Gatlinburg-Pittman (3-2) would rally behind their running game to come away with a 28-9 lead on Friday against the coach Jared Huskins' squad.
“They got in the wishbone set and just pushed us off the ball and did a good job at taking care of the football,” Huskins explained after the game. “They did a good job of stopping our passing game and our defense was wore out in the second half. We didn’t have anything to stop their power and they powered us up and down the field.”
Five turnovers, including two blocked punts by G-P's Justin Horner, would stop the stance and swung momentum in favor of coach Benny Hammonds' Highlanders squad during the latter part of the game.
“We said all week long they have the ability to beat us if we're flatter than a flitter after our win last week against Gibbs,” said Hammonds who has been in the coaching game for 40 years now. “But you've got to give all the credit to Unicoi. I was telling their coach they've made a tremendous amount of improvement in the last year.”
Unicoi scored early on a Hunter Abbott four yard rushing touchdown after a botched hook and ladder play gave Pittman possession.
Josh McKinney came up big, picking off a Ryan Myers pass early then hopping on a bobbled punt return to set up Unicoi's score.
“Coach Hammonds has set up a great program at Gatlinburg and that done wonders over the years,” Huskins said. “Having him come up after the game and say we've improved really meant a lot to us, and it shows that the hard work put in by the kids is getting noticed.”
Pittman would take the lead early in first half behind a rushing attack led by Ty Smith who rushed from 26 yards out to give the Highlanders a 7-6 lead.
Then Austin Hensley, 9-16 in the first half, would lead the Blue Devil charge before the half by hitting Chase Honeycutt for a 32-yard bomb to put Devils' kicker, Roberto Martinez in ideal range to kick a 24-yard field goal through the up rights to give Unicoi the 9-7 lead going into the half.
After the half, G-P’s secondary prepped for the passing game, with Hensley not completing a pass.
“We didn’t have anything to stop their power and they powered us up and down the field,” Huskins said.
Five turnovers, including two blocked punts by G-P's Justin Horner, would stop the stance and swung momentum in favor of coach Benny Hammonds' Highlanders squad during the latter part of the game.
“They did a good job of derailing routers and we couldn’t overcome it,” Huskins explained. “But he fought his heart out during the game. He was running the ball hard and made good decisions throughout the second half. Pittman's defense just did what they needed to do to hold us.”
With the passing game in check, Hensley showed his scrambling abilities with a 93-yard rushing performance on 11 carries.
The Highlanders' rushing attack continued the effort by rattling off 21 unanswered in the second half against the young Devils defense.
Sophomore Phillip Franklin was back in action after being injured during the Hampton game from two weeks, and led the defensive efforts for Unicoi by contributing six tackles during the night.
“Our defense has definitely came around over the weeks,” Huskins said. “We play a lot of underclassmen and they've continued to show the improvement. Our sophomore linebackers, Matt (Lingerfelt), Phillip (Franklin) and Cody (Harris) really have taken big strides. I'm proud of the way they all play, they just got wore out in the second half.”
McKinney, while coming up big in the turnover category, came up in the second place spot by snagging five tackles.
Clay McNabb, Anthony Harris, Willy Edwards and Cody Harris each came from their spots to contribute defensively.
They did a good job of derailing routers and we couldn’t overcome it,” Huskins explained. “But he fought his heart out during the game. He was running the ball hard and made good decisions throughout the second half. Pittman's defense just did what they needed to do to hold us.”
With the passing game in check, Hensley showed his scrambling abilities with a 93-yard rushing performance on 11 carries.
The Highlanders' rushing attack continued the effort by rattling off 21 unanswered in the second half against the young Devils defense.
Sophomore Phillip Franklin was back in action after being injured during the Hampton game from two weeks, and led the defensive efforts for Unicoi by contributing 6 tackles during the night.
“Our defense has came around over the weeks,” Huskins said. “We play a lot of underclassmen and they've continued to show the improvement. Our sophomore linebackers, Matt (Lingerfelt), Phillip (Franklin) and Cody (Harris) really have taken big strides. I'm proud of the way they all play, they just got wore out in the second half.”
McKinney, while coming up big in the turnover category, came up in the second place spot by snagging five tackles.
Clay McNabb, Anthony Harris, Willy Edwards and Cody Harris each came from their spots to contribute defensively.
With the Devils the Devils in their bye week, the coach is ready to get his team ready for the heart of the conference schedule beginning with a trip to rival Elizabethton.
“We need to work on playing faster,” Huskins explained. “People see we’re improving but we just need to get everything going. We’ll hit the weights and watch film on Sunday and just prepare. We’re making progress and we’ll use the bye week to get us ready for the trip to Elizabethton.”