Unfortunately for Happy Valley, Jovell Tremblay picked up steam in the second half and never looked back.
The Falcons used a nearly seven-minute drive in the fourth quarter to seal up a 21-13 opening night win over the Warriors on Warrior Hill on Thursday.
Happy Valley struck first as Braden Sams hit Dylan Street on a halfback pass on a fourth down to give the Warriors an early 7-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.
The teams traded punts until Tremblay scored his first of three touchdowns with just over four minutes to play in the half on a six-yard run. Happy Valley got inside the Volunteer 20, but a fumble turned the ball over as the teams went into the half tied at 7-7.
In the third quarter, the Warriors defense forced Volunteer to punt on the opening drive. The Falcons mishandled the snap on the punt, and Happy Valley took over at the 17 ready to strike.
It only took one play for the Warriors to capitalize as Josh Hammonds broke free for a 17-yard touchdown. The extra point, however, was missed.
Volunteer answered as they used six minutes off the clock on their drive before Trembley dived in from a yard out to push Volunteer to a 14-13 lead.
During the Volunteer possession, Sams, a freshman, was taken off the field on a stretcher. He was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.
Happy Valley was not able to get anything going on the opening drive of the fourth quarter, but forced Volunteer off the field with a three and out. However, a Warrior drive was stalled deep in Falcon territory with an interception with 7:07 remaining.
From there, Volunteer used a steady dose of the running game to milk time of the clock and chew up yards. Tremblay secured the win with his third and final touchdown with just over 13 seconds remaining.
Happy Valley’s Phillip Garland carried the ball 15 times for 63 yards on the ground, while Hammonds recorded 107 yards and a score on the ground.
Tremblay finished with 37 carries and 151 yards in addition to the three touchdowns.
The Warriors return to action next Friday night as they travel to Roan Mountain to take on Cloudland.
“That was a physical football team, and we knew they were watching the tape. In all three scrimmages, they have really improved from last year. That was just a butt whooping up front. We were banged up a little bit to begin with, and that didn’t help any. We tip our hat to them. That was a good football team.”
-Happy Valley Head Coach Larry Shivley
“We knew it was going to be a back and forth affair like last year. We have to have maximum ball security and we didn’t do that. In this profession, the little things will get you beat. We learned a tough lesson today, but we will get better. We have to regroup quickly and heal up because a good Cloudland team awaits us in Roan Mountain.”
-Shivley on turnovers during the game