KINGSPORT — Dylan Wieger and Josh Booker both take snaps at quarterback for Sullivan South, but their arrangement is far from a quarterback controversy.
In fact, the duo teamed up on Friday night to lead the Rebels to a resounding come-from-behind win over Tennessee High in Death Valley. After falling behind the Vikings 21-0 in the second quarter, South scored 37 unanswered points en route to a 37-27 victory.
“That shows we’ve got some fight in us,” South coach Sam Haynie said. “We’re going to face some adversity as we go through the year, but that’s a big hump for us to get over right there.”
Booker rumbled for a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:13 remaining in the second quarter to get South on the board. After Blake Christian scored less than two minutes later, Booker snagged an interception and Wieger hit Booker on a 10-yard scoring strike at the second-quarter horn to send the Rebels and Vikings into halftime tied at 21.
“We had a big play there, a Josh Booker interception,” said Wieger, who ran for 196 yards on 22 carries. “We just knew we had to get it going. Last week we started fast, but we were a little slow this week. Once we got in our rhythm, we knew we could do it.”
For the Vikings, heading into halftime tied six minutes or so after building a three-touchdown lead was devastating. Tennessee High coach Mike Mays said his team never regained its composure.
“In the second quarter, we lost our focus and we got tired,” Mays said. “We just broke right down before the half and we lost momentum, and we just never could get the grasp back on it.”
South, on the other hand, wasn’t in the mood to give Tennessee High another inch after turning over the ball to the Vikings three times in the first half. The Rebels took the second-half kickoff and drove down the field to take the lead for good when Wieger hit Christian Comsa on a 16-yard TD pass.
Once ahead, South was able to switch up its defensive strategy to slow down Tennessee High’s passing attack.
“We started rolling our safeties to help on (Adam Mitchell),” said Wieger, who came up with an interception of his own on defense in the second half. “He’s a heck of an athlete, and their quarterback can throw the heck out of it.
“Our pass rush was there all night, we just had to cover them back in the secondary.”
Tennessee High’s Peyton Hensley threw for 270 yards and two TDs, but he also threw three interceptions. The final one, which came in the red zone, sealed the Vikings’ fate.
With Tennessee High trailing 30-21 in the fourth quarter, Hensley fired a ball toward the goal line, but Will Blair intercepted it and returned it 97 yards to South’s 1-yard line. The Rebels punched it in three plays later to put the game out of reach with 3:01 remaining.
It’s early in the season, but Haynie said Friday’s win is one his team can build on in the weeks ahead.
“That six minutes there in the second quarter when we fought back was just remarkable,” he said.