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Rebels win seesaw shootout with Falcons

Tanner Cook • Aug 25, 2018 at 2:02 AM

CHURCH HILL — There is a reason to believe at Volunteer this season.

The Falcons’ football team generated plenty of highlights Friday night, but visiting Sullivan South had more to win a 59-46 nonconference shootout.

South quarterback Luke Pollack put on quite a show for the fans, finishing the game with five total touchdowns — including four rushing scores.

He accounted for 312 of South’s 500-plus offensive yards. The Rebels rushed for 387 yards as a team.

“Luke is gutsy. He played well against Daniel Boone,” said South coach Justin Hilton. “I know what he’s capable of. If we give him time, he’s going to hit throws and he is definitely a hard-nosed runner. If we’re going to win football games down the road, we’re going to have to lean hard on our offensive line. We know that going into every game.”

Julian Reed finished with two touchdowns for the Rebels. Aaron Watterson was the recipient of the lone passing touchdown.

For the Falcons, sophomore quarterback Eli Dorton hit 17 of 27 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown but had three costly interceptions. Dorton also rushed for two touchdowns.

“I’m really proud of this team. This was a tough one,” said Volunteer coach Justin Pressley. “When you’re down like that, fight back, get the lead and fall back again ... we could’ve quit. But they didn’t.”

Cameron Johnson had a good night for the Falcons as well, fitting a 10-yard scoring run into an 88-yard effort. Isaiah Bragg got in on the scoring action late with a rushing touchdown.

Volunteer stalled on its opening three drives of the game and the Rebels seized advantage, grabbing a 14-0 lead. It almost looked like a repeat of last year’s meeting, which the Rebels won by 50 points in Death Valley.

However, the shootout had just begun.

The Falcons got a score from Dorton and a 2-point conversion to cut their deficit to six.

South stretched the lead to 13 points after Austin Monds picked off a Dorton pass. Pollack scampered to the end zone from 42 yards away to give South a 21-8 lead.

Volunteer battled back with a 13-play, 89-yard drive to again close the gap to six. Dorton threw 13 yards to Peyton Baker for the score just before halftime.

The Falcons thwarted the Rebels to begin the second half and stormed into the lead with a nine-play, 70-yard march capped by a Johnson run.

But both teams still had plenty of bullets left in the back-and-forth game.

After another Pollack touchdown run, Peyton Derrick returned the kickoff 98 yards to swiftly give the upper hand back to Volunteer, 30-28.

However, the big blow came three plays later, when Pollack scampered 18 yards to paydirt for his third score of the night, opening the floodgates.

South went on to score four more times, including a safety, before the Falcons got on the board again.

South (1-1) hosts Grainger next week. Volunteer (1-1) travels to David Crockett.

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