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Warriors defeat Devils

It was a tale of two halves for the Unicoi County High School Blue Devil football team.
After trailing the Blue Devils by five points, 12-7, at intermission, Happy Valley outscored the Blue Devils 27-7 in the second half to earn a 34-19 non-conference victory on Friday, Sept. 11, to spoil homecoming night festivities at Gentry Stadium.
Happy Valley (1-2) earned their first victory of the year as the Blue Devils slipped to 2-2.
“These kids, man, they’re relentless,” first-year Warriors head coach Jason Jarrett said of his team. “I couldn’t be prouder of our guys. We needed to get that monkey off our back and get that first win. This game is always intense. (Unicoi County) is our rival; it is a storied rivalry. To get the first win of the year, I couldn’t ask for it at a better place. They have a great team, they’re super athletic and well-coached. I have a lot of respect for Unicoi County, but this win means a lot for us.”
UCHS struck first with a 7-play, 66-yard drive that was capped off by quarterback Hunter Hensley finding a wide open Shaddon Peavyhouse from 35 yards out to go up, 6-0, with less than three minutes to go following a blocked point-after attempt (PAT).
Happy Valley responded on their next possession, needing just one down with Sage Haun hitting Josh Hammonds 63 yards out for a score. The Warriors took a one-point advantage heading into the second, 7-6.
The Blue Devils had momentum rolling in the second frame with another passing score from Hensley, this time to senior Eli Gillis, from 33 yards out to move ahead 12-7 with 8:36 left in the half.
UCHS rallied heading into halftime, holding the Warriors on a red zone stand that was highlighted by a monster sack from junior defensive end Jacob Smith.
“We felt pretty good there going into halftime,” Blue Devil head coach Glenn White said. “We stopped them there on the 2-yard line and had the momentum going in.”
After homecoming festivities during intermission, the Blue Devils took possession after receiving the kickoff. Happy Valley began to mount their offensive attack after an interception near midfield.
“It was a good throw,” White said. “We just couldn’t bring it down. They intercepted it and it changed the momentum. From that play, we never recovered.”
Warrior Austin Hicks rushed for 67 yards, but made the brunt of the carries count in the second half with three rushing touchdowns. Haun also connected with Jose Burgos from 30 yards out to pull away with the win.
“My hat’s off to Happy Valley,” White said. “They did what they had to do to win. I told our boys that there’s no doubt in my mind that we are a better football team than what we showed tonight. It is what it is. We have to move forward, but it’s like life. I was very confident that we’d have a good chance to win tonight, but it didn’t work out.”
Hensley finished 6-16, throwing for 120 yards with two touchdown throws and two interceptions – one by Hammonds, the other by Warrior Mookie Madison.
Quarterback Kendrick Williams entered in the fourth quarter for the Blue Devils and added a pair of strikes against the Happy Valley first-team defense for 61 yards, including a 46-yard reception by Laban Peterson who turned on the jets to get UCHS into the red zone. Williams connected with freshman Brett Strother for 15 yards for a touchdown to give the Blue Devils their final score.
Haun went 10-15 throwing for 202 yards. Madison added 112 yards on the ground on 23 carries to help the Warriors out gain the Blue Devil offense 364-225.
Peavyhouse led the UCHS receiving core with two catches for 61 yards. Gillis had two catches for 43 yards.
Michael Howell added 14 yards.
Nick Fender added a reception for UCHS to go along with 12 carries for 37 yards in the rushing attack. Fender also had two punt returns for 64 yards.
The offense sputtered in the second half for the Blue Devils due to turnovers, including three fumbles which were lost and picked up by the Warriors. Brayden Sams, Seth Chesser and Skylar Hyatt each had a recovery for Happy Valley.
The Blue Devils had a pair of fumble recoveries from Dawson Hensley and Randall Blangin.
Smith paced the UCHS defense with six tackles and two sacks.
With the loss, the Blue Devils will look to regroup as they welcome the Elizabethton Cyclones to Gentry Stadium on Friday, Sept. 18, in Mountain 8 Conference action.
The Cyclones enter the contest after a tightly contested 21-7 win over Daniel Boone last week in Carter County.
“We have a big football team coming in Friday night,” White said. “We all know the tradition that Elizabethton has and I’m excited to see how we will respond. We have to get down there and just smack them in the mouth. It’s not like ‘oh no it is Elizabethton’, we’re going to round the wagon up and play them hard. We are disappointed, but like I said before, it is life. There are going to be better days ahead. I believe in this team and the coaching staff. We’re just going to carry on.”
Kickoff for Friday’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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With the Blue Devils junior varsity team out of action last week, the squad was able to earn a victory against the Sullivan East Patriots the week prior.
The UCHS junior varsity team was scheduled to face Happy Valley on Monday, Sept. 14, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline, and are scheduled to face Elizabethton’s underclassmen next week.
An update of the time for the contest will appear on The Erwin Record Sports Facebook page online.