COMEBACK KIDS: Happy Valley rallies in second half to defeat North, 41-24

Published 11:58 am Saturday, September 3, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden  Kai Norman, right, and Brayden Sams celebrate after Norman's touchdown reception in the first half.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Kai Norman, right, and Brayden Sams celebrate after Norman’s touchdown reception in the first half.

Senior leadership paid dividends in a playoff-like atmosphere for the Warriors.

Trailing 24-14 in the fourth quarter, Happy Valley rattled off four touchdowns to come form behind to defeat Sullivan North 41-24 in conference action Friday night in Bloomingdale.

The win moved the Warriors to 2-0 on the season while the Golden Raiders fell to 2-1.

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“This is an incredible win,” Happy Valley head coach Jason Jarrett said.  “This comes back to senior leadership. We have so many leaders on this team and they took control in the second half. Sullivan North is great team. They’re probably the biggest team we’ll see this year.”

Happy Valley jumped on the board early with quarterback Sage Haun (17-23, 216 yards, 4 TDs) connected with Skylar Hyatt from 16 yards out.

Sage later found Kai Norman from 25 yards in the period, but both teams traded scores with the Warriors taking a 14-12 lead thanks to a pair of missed extra point attempts from the Golden Raiders.

North quarterback Peyton Robinson connected with tailback Christian Arnold to makes things interesting at the half, giving the Golden Warriors the 18-14.

But staying composed, the Warriors would not back down.

“It comes back to the senior leadership,” Jarrett said. “That’s what we told our guys in the second half. Don’t stress it … we’ve been in these situations before.”

Arnold tacked another score in the third quarter from six yards out before the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ went into full effect for the Warriors.

Dustun Sams (13 carries, 39 yards, TD) rumbled in from nine yards with 11:15 to go in the fourth period, helped set up by a big run from Austin Hicks.

Hicks (9 carries, 76 yards, 2 TDs) proved to be a bruiser on the ground, scoring the team’s final touchdown from 31 yards out, but came up in a big way for the Warriors through the air, hauling in a Sage haun pass from nine yards out to give his team the lead, 28-24, with under six minutes to go in the contest.

“He’s a senior and been in the trenches for us,” Jarrett said. “We try to distribute the ball as much as we can. Austin has been in these situations before.”

The Warriors were led on the ground by Dylan Street (12 carries, 104 yards) while Skylar Hyatt, who hauled in a 26-yard catch late in the fourth, led the team in receiving with six catches for 78 yards.

After scoring over 80 points combined in the past two games, Jarrett credited the effort of his defense, too, which came up big with the likes of Landon Morefield, Seth Chesser and Brayden Sams coming up with stops.

The Warriors outgained Sullivan North 431 to 334.

Happy Valley returns home next Friday with a nonconference rivalry game against Unicoi County.