Cyclones pull away from HV in junior varsity tilt

Photo by Kristen Luther
Cyclones quarterback Preston Smith tries to evade the Warrior rush.

By Marvin Birchfield
After losing a close contest in their varsity matchup with Happy Valley this past Friday, the Elizabethton Cyclones were able to find a little redemption in junior varsity action, beating the Warriors in a 28-7 final Monday night.
A stiff defensive effort from the Cyclone front in the second half never gave the Warriors a chance of making a rally.
The Cyclones opened the game by grabbing the early momentum on an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Brent Shaver.
"Our defense played real well, and we got an opening kickoff return, which was the first time that had ever happened here," said Elizabethton coach Steve McKinney.
An extra point from freshman Brian Freeman gave the Cyclones a 7-0 advantage, but the Warriors came back with a response.
Happy Valley drove the ball down the field to tie the contest with just under a minute left in the first period.
A run up the middle from Logan Birchfield resulted in a 10-yard score, and an extra point by David Gately matched the Cyclones at 7-7.
Elizabethton, though, struck on offense as the period was running out, when James Peterson busted loose for a 61-yard touchdown run.
The Cyclones had taken back the momentum primarily, but not before the Warriors put together a second drive threatening to score.
Francisco Borquez converted a third down and long with a 52 yard run by making several cuts and eluding defenders.
The Warriors managed to get inside the 10, but a crushing hit from a couple of Cyclone linemen jarred the ball loose, with Elizabethton recovering in their own end zone.
"That hurt there. It took the momentum away from us, but the Elizabethton coaches did a good job of adjusting and got after us," said Happy Valley coach Larry Abel. "A couple of our backs ran the ball hard even though there weren't many holes, and I'm pleased with the effort."
Both teams turned the ball over with under a minute left in the half, as a fumbled snap from center gave the Cyclones the ball.
Next play, a pass from Preston Smith to Ryan Kennedy was complete, but a stop by Borquez and then a hit from Wesley Stewart returned the ball back to the Warriors.
Elizabethton enjoyed a touchdown lead at halftime, then the Cyclones forced a turnover to begin the second half, with David Lyons recovering a fumble.
"We played mostly a lot of freshman today, and it's like I told the kids at halftime, we need to step up and play better defense," said McKinney. "Defensively, we did a much better job in the second half."
A 13-yard run by fullback David Bray placed the ball down at the one, as he made a couple of spin moves to twist his way right outside of the goal line.
Defensive lineman John Calandros made the stop on another give to Bray, denying the touchdown, but a quarterback sneak from Smith increased the Cyclone advantage to 21-7 with 8:00 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors couldn't get anything going on offense in the second half, as Elizabethton's linemen were penetrating the backfield and creating a loss in yardage.
"I have to credit our defensive in the second half, and to Coach Hooks and Moore --they made a lot of adjustments," said McKinney. "My offensive coach made some adjustments also, and we moved the ball a little better."
Happy Valley seemed to catch a break during the fourth period when a nearly blocked punt resulted into a fumble by Elizabethton.
Borquez barely managed to get the punt off after a high snap. When the ball was misfielded, freshman Brandon Whitehead made the recovery for HV.
The Warrior offense was stifled again, however, forcing them to punt after receiving good field position at the 50.
"They did a good job of adjusting to our offense, and the offensive plays that we run are pretty basic," said Abel. "They were big kids and they wore us down a little bit."
This time Borquez was not so lucking as Justin Harmon came busting through to block the attempted kick.
The Cyclones took over at the Warrior 35 and marched it down the field for their last touchdown of the night.
"You get down and then your kids get down, but we battled back, then a couple of turnovers there in the second half really hurt us," said Abel.
Smith hooked up with Kennedy to complete a 20-yard gain, then a Smith-to-Kennedy connection on a slant across the middle scored from 10 yards out.
"It's like I tell everybody, when this freshman, sophomore, junior, and eighth-grade bunch down at T.A. Dugger all get together, they're going to be super Cyclones, and I'm privileged to have an opportunity to coach those guys," said McKinney.