Early Cyclone lead evaporates  as Vikes collect big league win

By Allen LaMountain
ASST SPORTS EDITOR
awlamountain@starhq.com

   After spotting 'Betsy a 14-0 lead, the Tennessee High Vikings made the Cyclones early momentum disappear faster a bucket of fried chicken in front of Anna Nicole Smith.
   The Vikings (3-0, 2-0 conf.) scored 35 unanswered points after an early Cyclones scoring binge to earn a 42-20 victory on Friday night at Brown-Childress Stadium and place themselves firmly atop the Mountain Lakes Conference.
   "We never stopped their running game, especially the sweep," Cyclones head coach Tommy Jenkins said. "We talked about it at halftime -- and we played better in the second half -- but there was just a whole lot of missed tackles. It's a very disappointing loss."
   Vikings left halfback Josh Walden led a THS rushing attack that recorded 316 ground yards on 54 tries. Walden rushed for 127 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns
   "When they got up on us we didn't get down on ourselves," said Walden. "We set out to change the momentum and show them that we weren't going to lie down. The offensive line began blowing open big holes and we got back to playing our game after that."
   'Betsy tailback Walter Brown capped a seven-play, 91-yard opening drive with a 57- yard blast to paydirt, giving Elizabethton a 7-0 lead after forcing the Vikings to punt on their opening series.
   A pop-fly kickoff by Craig Estep was then recovered by Lester Bailey to set up the Cyclones on Tennessee High's 28-yard line. One play later EHS quarterback Ryan Curtis found Bailey in the endzone with a scoring toss to give Betsy an impossibly easy 14-0 first quarter lead.
   That lead -- and 'Betsy's momentum -- quickly evaporated however as THS went on an 85-yard scoring drive that was capped by a three yard run by Dustin Dickson, and after the Cyclones went three and out the Vikings took possession at the EHS 42-yard line.
   Seven plays later Walden was in the endzone on a 14-yard scoring run and the game was knotted at 14-14 with the crowd barely settled in its seats.
   "When we took that early lead I was thinking, 'Were in tall cotton now', but that shows you how quickly things can change in a ballgame," commented Jenkins. "I don't know how it happens, but we have a tendency to bring out the best in our opponents. Coming in I thought we were pretty evenly matched."
   Five turnovers -- including four interceptions from Curtis -- have a way of hurting your chances and that became clear on the next Cyclone series as Curtis tossed one right into the waiting arms of Viking safety Garrett Stacy who rambled 18-yards with the pick to give Bristol a 21-14 advantage.
   "I take 150 percent of the blame," said a dejected Curtis. "Tennessee High has a great defense and an offense that can take them right down the field. We didn't get the job done, myself especially."
   One Cyclone who did get his particular job done was Brown who rushed for 186 yards and two scores in his second straight spectacular effort, and Vikings head coach Greg Stubbs had praise for his efforts saying, "We couldn't contain their sweep all night. That kid Brown is just an awesome runner, with great speed. EHS always has that great tailback and he is one of them."
   In the second period Dickson scored again on a two-yard run to cap an 11-play, 60-yard drive as the Vikes took a 28-14 lead into the dressing room and never looked back.
   Cyclone safety Adam Turley missed an opportunity to stymie that drive when he dropped a potential interception in the Bristol end zone, and Dickson capitalized on the reprieve.
   "We knew coming in that we had a chance to win, but when we took the game over defensively, we knew we would win," said Vikings stalwart LB Ryan Baker, who along with Justin Spina recorded 10 tackles and made life miserable for Curtis every time he went back to pass. "We were stunned for a little bit early on, they have a good running back that was making yards on us. But our offense got rolling and we knew that if we held them a couple of times that we would find a way to win."
   A two-yard plunge by Chris Boyd gave the Vikings a 35-14 lead to open the fourth period, as neither team could crack the scoreboard in the third quarter.
   'Betsy responded with a 15-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with an eight-yard scoring run by Brown. On the play Brown blasted off tackle but saw the ball get popped out of his hands.
   Brown recovered his own fumble in the air as he crashed into the end zone, but the drive had killed off nearly six minutes of precious clock time and with just six minutes and 46 seconds left, EHS trailed 35-20 after THS blocked Estep's PAT.
   Walden blasted in from the eight-yard line for the final margin of victory after Stacy had picked off Curtis once again with just one-minute left in the contest.