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Sullivan East bests Blue Devils

Sullivan East’s stingy defense resulted in a goose egg for the Unicoi County High School Blue Devil football team last week.
Matt Nixon accounted for 112 yards and three scores and the Patriots defense did their job to the letter, by holding the Blue Devil offense scoreless to earn a 35-0 win on Friday, Aug. 28, at Gentry Stadium.
Sullivan East moved to 2-0 on the season, while the Blue Devils moved to 1-1 on the season.
During their season opener the previous week, the Blue Devil offense totaled more than 500 yards; however, against East, the Blue Devils were unable to get things rolling against the Patriots’ defense and were held to less than 100 yards of offense.
“They did a super job,” Sullivan East head coach Mike Locke said of his defense Friday night. “They kept Unicoi from getting some momentum early that they could have gotten with the turnovers. It allowed us to kind of settle down in the second quarter and let the game come to us. In the third quarter, we got some things really running.”
The Blue Devils won the turnover battle early in the first half with three stops, including interceptions from Colt Brewer and Derek Berry and a fumble recovery from Eli Gillis.
But the Patriots had the perfect kryptonite for the potent UCHS offense, including putting a stop on a productive game in the air by holding Blue Devil quarterback Hunter Hensley to 3-21 passing with 44 yards.
“East did a great job putting pressure on Hunter,” Blue Devil head coach Glenn White said. “I should have adjusted to their outside linebackers blitzing and I accept full responsibility for the loss. We just couldn’t get it done on that end. I thought we had a good gameplan in place, but they kept blitzing and we didn’t have much time to do anything.”
The Patriots Acie McCoy and Nixon helped their squad go into half with a 14-0 lead. Sullivan East was able to tack 21 points in the second half against a gassed UCHS defense to come away with the victory.
“Our boys were ready to play,” White said. “Coming off the big win over South Greene, I knew our guys were ready to come out and get a win for our crowd. (East) got to us early, we started to get frustrated, and you could see that. East is a very good team. Coach (Mike) Locke is in his fifth year there and he has them on the upswing of things.”
Blue Devil Michael Howell finished with a reception for 37 yards and Brandon Caldwell also hauled in a grab from 14 yards out. Nick Fender paced the rushing attack with eight carries for 51 yards.
Brewer paced the defense with 6.5 tackles and was close by with Brandon Caldwell tallying six of his own. Tyler Whitson tacked on 5.5, Berry and Dawson Hensley added four each. Jacob Smith added 3.5 and a tackle for loss to pace the defense. Randall Blangin also had a sack for UCHS.
The game will serve as a learning experience for the squad heading into their Mountain 8 Conference opener this week against West Greene. The Blue Devils head to Mosheim on Thursday, Sept. 3, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.
“We just have to grow from this,” White said. “These boys understand the life of football. They’ve been through the hard times. I feel confident we’ll come out with a better showing against West Greene, and that’s no disrespect to West Greene. They’re a very solid, well-coached team. Coach (Joe) Case has a winning record with the program.”
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The UCHS junior varsity football team traveled to Sullivan East on Monday, Aug. 31, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline.
The underclassmen are scheduled to return back to action on Monday, Sept. 7, with a trip to West Greene. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m.