Gatlinburg-Pittman gets past Happy Valley despite Haun-Hammonds air show

Published 1:10 pm Saturday, October 17, 2015


by Bryce Phillips

Star Staff

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GATLINBURG—Even though the Warriors blew apart the Highlanders’ secondary, Happy Valley could not leave Gatlinburg with a Region 1-AA win.

The Highlanders’ 42-36 win overshadowed a huge passing and receiving game by Sage Haun and Josh Hammonds.

Haun threw for 305 yards, connecting for four touchdowns, which were all to Hammonds, who received for 211 yards.

“We worked a lot on passing this week,” Haun said as he made his way to the locker room Friday night. “We knew if we couldn’t do it on the ground, we would have to do it through the air. We proved that we could do that.

“I just have to give a lot of credit to our line; they blocked their hearts out tonight,” Haun added.

The Warriors finished the night with 484 yards of total offense— 139 on the ground and 345 in the air. Austin Hicks led the ground assault with 68 yards rushing and a 19-yard touchdown run.

The deciding factors in Friday night’s game would be a couple dropped passes that could have resulted in Happy Valley touchdowns and a fumbled punt return that set the Highlanders to pick up their first touchdown.

“In the first quarter alone, we had three wide-open touchdown passes that were dropped,” head coach Jason Jarrett said after the game. “After the punt and the dropped passes, it took the air out of the kids for a while. But the kids have fought all year, and they fought tonight.”

On their first drive, the Warriors fought deep into the Highlanders territory, picking up three first downs on the way, one of which was due to a 25-yard pass play from Sage Haun to Brayden Sams. The Warriors, however, came up short as they turned the ball over on downs. After a failed pass from Haun to Dylan Street, the Highlanders had the ball on their own 30.

Happy Valley’s defense held the Highlanders pack, forcing them to punt, and giving the Warriors the ball on their own 28. Happy Valley pushed down to G-P’s 19, before Haun rushed for 16 yards to put the Warriors on the 3-yard line. In two plays, Happy Valley was in the endzone, with Dustin Sams recovering the ball in the paydirt. With the extra point no good, the Warriors led 6-0 early in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, a fumbled punt return by the Warriors set the Highlanders up on Happy Valley’s 25-yard line. In four plays, the ’Landers found themselves in the endzone, with Albert Werner rushing in from 4 yards out. With the extra point good, G-P took the lead 7-6.

The Highlanders scored one more time with a nine-play drive that saw G-P push from its own 42 to the 1-yard line, before Werner ran the ball on in. With the point after good, G-P led 14-6.

The Warriors got the last word in the first half, with Haun connecting with Josh Hammonds for a 36-yard TD pass, leaving just five minutes on the clock. The Warriors failed to convert on the two-point conversion, sending the teams to the locker rooms with G-P up 14-12.

In the second half, G-P put up four touchdowns. Happy Valley also found the momentum to put up four touchdowns in the second half, with Haun finding Hammonds for three touchdown passes, one of 57 yards, one of 66 yards, and one of 46 yards.The last touchdown of the game came from Hicks who rushed one in from 19 yards out.

G-P finished the night with 331 yards of total offense – 264 coming from the ground and 67 coming from the air. Austin Cline led G-P in rushing with 156 yards on 26 carries.

Despite the loss, the Warriors are still looking to get into that eleventh game.

“We just have to keep on playing,” Haun said. “We have to win out from here. I think, if we win out from here, we will be fine. We just can’t let this get us down.”