Cyclones parlay Warrior mistakes into 35-14 win

By Allen LaMountain

   Getting an early boost from the special teams, the Elizabethton Cyclones scored three quick touchdowns en route to a 35-14 win on Friday night over the Happy Valley Warriors at Brown-Childress Stadium.
   The first three Warrior possessions resulted in two blocked punts and a sack of punter Tim Whaley by a fired-up Cyclone special teams that saw senior LB Vince Redd pressed into duty on the squad.
   "You can't give a good athletic team like Elizabethton a short field to work with and we did it three straight times," said Warriors head coach Stan Ogg. "We had some serious special teams breakdowns and we have to do a better job there."
   After 'Betsy went three-and-out on its first possession the Cyclone defense forced Happy Valley to punt and Redd busted up the gut to block Whaley's attempt and set EHS up at the Warrior 26-yard line.
   From there Walter Brown capped a four-play drive with a two-yard run to paydirt, giving the Cyclones a seven-point advantage. On the Warriors' next series it was Evan Lindauer that crashed the Happy Valley punt party, blocking Whaley's kick and setting 'Betsy's offense up in prime field position once again.
   "We put that particular package in this week," said EHS special teams coach Brian Moore. "We saw some things on film that we thought we could exploit in (Happy Valley's) blocking scheme and the kids did a super job of doing what we planned."
   Three plays later Cyclone quarterback Ryan Curtis hit fullback Mitchell Bowers with a 15-yard scoring toss to give EHS a two-touchdown lead. Curtis came back from a rough outing against Tennessee High to complete 12-of-18 passes for 123 yards and a pair of scores.
   Curtis must have felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders after a dismal four-interception showing against the Vikings.
   When asked if he felt somewhat vindicated by his solid performance, Curtis said: "Oh yeah. I really worked with the coaches this week on coverage recognition, which I really needed to do. We got Vince involved in the offense more this week and he's such a big target. That got us rolling."
   After Lester Bailey blew up the next Happy Valley punt by sacking Whaley, the Cyclones were in business at the HV 24, and Curtis capped off this drive with a one-yard plunge to give the Cyclones a 21-0 lead early in the second period.
   Whaley stepped in under center on the next Warrior series, which ended when Whaley was picked off by Cyclone safety Adam Turley, but Happy Valley struck back as Will Lowe picked off a deflected pass from Curtis to set HV up at the EHS 41-yard line.
   Warrior fullback Cody Cannon blasted up the gut on the first play from scrimmage and surged to the goal to get Happy Valley on the scoreboard and cut the 'Betsy lead to 21-7. Cannon finished a solid night's work with 88 yards on 10 carries.
   The Cyclones then went on their best drive of the night, going 60 yards in 10-plays to set up another two-yard gallop by Brown to make it a 28-7 game at the break.
   "Lots of guys stepped up tonight, with Walter and Curtis leading the way," said Cyclones head coach Tommy Jenkins. "We needed to play with some emotion and show some emotion out there. We seemed to lose that last week, but our level of intensity stayed high all night. We got off to a good start with the blocked punts, and the credit for that goes to Coach Moore, who noticed some cracks in their blocking and we got the kicks blocked."
   A fumble by Lance Whitehead was recovered by Brown at the HV 20 and the Cyclones wasted no time in turning that gift into points as Curtis hit Redd with a 15-yard scoring pass. 'Betsy now led 35-7 in the third period.
   From there Ogg went with freshman left-hander Todd Caldwell at quarterback and Caldwell led a scoring drive for Happy Valley in the fourth quarter. Caldwell finished 5-of-10 passing for 52 yards with one interception.
   Ryan "G-Train" Garland capped off a 10-play, 59-yard drive with a two-yard run to close out the scoring as both teams then sent the second units onto the field for the remainder of the contest.
   "I hated to do that to the freshman, but I'm proud of the way he responded to the challenge," Ogg said. "Sometimes you just have to get in there to learn. Elizabethton hurt us with the special teams and we took ourselves out of the game with mistakes.
   "Redd and Curtis hurt us with some hot-routes and Brown is simply a great back. He doesn't go down with arm tackles and has great speed."
   Brown had his third straight solid game for EHS, rushing for 122 yards on 24 touches with two scores, and for the season Brown now has accumulated 511 yards on the ground for a three-game average of 170.3 yards-per-game.
   Cyclone notes: 'Betsy takes to the road this week for a Mountain Lakes Conference clash against Sullivan South in newly-named Carl Matherly Stadium before its highly anticipated matchup with the Greeneville Greene Devils at Burley Stadium. Redd finished the night with 12 tackles, a blocked punt and four receptions for 57 yards with a touchdown, while Michael Porter had seven tackles as the defense overall played much better.