Cyclones take Rebs by storm

By Allen LaMountain

   Scoring touchdowns in four of their first five possessions -- and recording another on defense -- the Elizabethton Cyclones avenged last season's overtime loss to Sullivan South with a 35-23 win on Friday night in Death Valley.
   The win got 'Betsy into the Mountain Lakes win column at 1-1 (3-1 overall) and saddled the young Rebels (1-1, 1-3 overall) with their second straight loss.
   EHS tailback Walter Brown was spectacular once again, rushing for 179 yards and four touchdowns, and an increasingly aggressive Cyclones defense held the Rebels to 198 yards of total offense.
   "Last year I was injured a lot, and this year I'm totally healthy," said Brown, explaining the huge strides he has made this season in rushing for 690 yards in four contests. "The offensive line made sure the holes were there all night. The line has been performing well and all I have to do is run hard."
   Senior quarterback Ryan Curtis had a solid game once again, completing 11-of-16 throws for 147 yards as he is getting more and more comfortable in offensive coordinator Eddie Pless' no-huddle offense.
   "It's not really a hurry up offense, but it could be if we wanted to go that way," said Curtis. "What it does is lets me get a good look at the defensive set before we call the play and take the snap. The main objective is to take momentum away from the defense."
   'Betsy did that from the opening snap as they marched 68 yards in nine plays for the opening score, with Brown blasting five yards to paydirt as EHS took a 7-0 first quarter lead.
   Things went bad for the Rebels right away as on the third play from scrimmage, wingback Aaron Hudgins fumbled a handoff and 'Betsy LB Vince Redd was there to pounce on the loose ball.
   Redd picked up the pigskin at the Rebel 44-yard line and after shedding two would-be tacklers bolted into the end zone -- dragging one Rebel tackler with him - to give the Cyclones a 13-0 lead after Craig Estep's PAT was blocked.
   Redd had another solid night -- recording 10 tackles on defense -- despite playing only three quarters -- and catching two passes for 32 yards as well.
   "My main goal is to do what the team needs me to do and record the W," said Redd, who made an incredible one-armed stop of Robinette on a third and one play, showing great strength and forcing a Rebel punt. "I'm out there to give everything I have for the team and my teammates."
   Down by two scores the Rebels then put on their best drive of the night marching 53 yards on seven plays with quarterback Mike Morelock diving over the pile from the one-yard line to make it a 13-7 ballgame.
   "The early drive for our first score was encouraging," said Rebels head coach Pat Fraley. "But we couldn't capitalize on good field position. If we ran the offense the way we returned kicks all night we would have been in good shape."
   South had 211 yards in kickoff and punt returns in what was the only consistent phase of the Rebels game led by Aaron Robinette and Hudgins who had 115 and 106 return yards, respectively.
   "We started several drives deep in (EHS') end of the field, but couldn't keep the offense going," Fraley said. "They just beat us physically up front, and when that happens it makes for a long night."
   After forcing a Cyclone punt the Rebels looked to cash in, but the Betsy defense stiffened and forced South to try a field goal from 32-yards. Rebels senior kicker Brandon Willingham drilled the ball through the upright's to cut the 'Betsy advantage to 13-10, but that's as close as the Rebels would get.
   Curtis then led EHS on an 11-play, 88-yard drive that Brown capped with his second score of the night, and the Cyclones went into the dressing room with a 21-10 halftime lead.
   'Betsy scored on its two third quarter possessions, using up lots of game clock to take a 35-10 lead going into the final stanza. Brown scored on five-yard and six-yard runs to cap drives of 63 and 80-yards.
   "I think our first drive set the tone for us tonight," said Cyclones head coach Tommy Jenkins. "It got us into the proper mindset and told us that we could do this. Coach Pless has done a super job with this offense, and it gives us a lot of advantages.
   "It enables us to get a good pre-snap read of the defense and keeps them out of the huddle. It also diminishes the way the defense can substitute players in and out, and keeps them on their heels."
   South managed two late scores against the Cyclones second unit as Fraley kept many of his starters in the game late -- subbing only for Morelock. Junior quarterback Timmy Joe Meade led the Rebels to the late scores and showed some skills as he completed four-of-six passes for 49 yards, including a 16-yard scoring toss to WR Grady Moore to cap the scoring for the evening.
   EHS notes: The Cyclones travel to Burley Stadium next week to take on unbeaten Greeneville in a non-region matchup. The Greene Devils recorded a 40-27 win at Brown-Childress Stadium last season, taking charge after a 21-21 score at halftime. Game time will be 7:30 p.m. for this rivalry matchup.