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Hartsock keys North's huge comeback against Central

JOHNNY WILSON, Sports Correspondent • Aug 24, 2019 at 2:38 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Austin Hartsock engineered a jaw-dropping comeback Friday night, carrying Sullivan North’s football team from a 20-point halftime deficit to a 36-28 nonconference win over host Sullivan Central in the season opener for both teams.

Down 28-8 at intermission, North scored the game’s last four touchdowns.

Hartsock, a senior quarterback, had his fingerprints all over the stunning win, scoring four touchdowns to bring the Golden Raiders all the way back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit.

View the photo gallery from the game

The Cougars, who snapped a 36-game losing streak last October with their only win of 2018, dominated the first half and had a touchdown called back in the first two minutes of the second half.

Thereafter, it was all Sullivan North.

“Coach (Preston Patrick) set us straight at halftime, he really did,” said Hartsock, who missed the last half of 2018 with a broken leg. “He told us what it was about, and in the second half we came back strong.

“All the credit in the world needs to go to our offensive line — they were great.”

RAIDERS ROAR BACK

North began its comeback after turning the ball over the first play of the second half.

Following an interception by Landon Roberts, the visitors got to work.

Hartsock got it going with a 67-yard option keeper for a score, cutting the deficit to 28-14 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

After the Raiders scored on a safety when Central mishandled a high punt snap that rolled through the end zone, Hartsock tallied on a 1-yard sneak and Dale Potter added a 2-point conversion run to bring North to within 28-24.

Hartsock, who scored on a 1-yard sneak in the first half, then ran it in on a 13-yard option keeper with 11:53 left in the game, boosting North to a 30-28 edge.

Potter gave the Raiders their eight-point cushion with a 34-yard TD jaunt with six minutes showing on the clock.

Hartsock finished with 138 yards rushing. Potter and rugged fullback Yancy Dolen collected 80 and 77 yards on the ground, respectively.

COUGARS FLY HIGH EARLY

Central went to the airways to assume early command, with first-time starting quarterback Will Nottingham passing for three touchdowns and running for another over the game’s first two quarters.

After Nottingham’s 15-yard keeper opened the game’s scoring, Bryson Crabtree hauled in TD passes of 48 and 52 yards before Connor Wilson snared a 13-yard scoring toss to provide the Cougars with their 20-point halftime bulge.

Central, however, could not find the end zone in the second half.

UP NEXT

Next Friday, North goes to Johnson County and Central travels to Volunteer.

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