Greeneville cuts down Elizabethton

Photo by Kristen Luther
ElizabethtonÕs Lester Bailey handles the football.

By Marvin Birchfield
The Elizabethton Cyclones were celebrating their homecoming on Friday night, but an opportunity to enjoy a victory over Greeneville became out of reach.
Four turnovers in the first half by the Cyclones created too much of a deficit, as they fell behind by three touchdowns in the early part of the contest and went on to drop a 43-14 decision at Rider Field.
"They're a good ball team, and of course we had four turnovers the first four times we touched the ball. But even at that we go into halftime just 16 points down," said Elizabethton coach Tommy Jenkins. "I told them that we've done everything wrong that we could possible do and we're still in the ball game, but when a team gets up like that you can't afford to start swapping scores."
Things started going sour for Elizabethton on its first possession, when senior fullback Jordan Bray was put out of the game with an injury.
"That hurt us early," Jenkins said. "We ran tough last week, and we had some guys come in and run tough, but we could never get to where we open things up."
On the next play from scrimmage, Weston Jeffers' pass attempt was picked off by Charlie McKnight, who returned the ball down to the Cyclone 9-yard line.
The Greene Devils capitalized on the turnover when senior quarterback Chase Greenway ran the option left, tucked the ball away and cut inside for an 8-yard touchdown run.
"He really does a good job," Greeneville coach Mike Zeller said of Greenway. "We moved him last year from wide receiver, and he makes so many things happen that we can spread the field out by running it or throwing it."
After picking up a first down on a couple of carries from Lester Bailey, Elizabethton elected to go to the air again, with the same kind of ending result as the first series.
A pass intended for Adam Turley was intercepted by Caleb Jones around the Greene Devils 10.
Elizabethton got the ball back after stopping the Greeneville drive, which made it past midfield when Michael Lollar reeled off a 34-yard run.
The third interception of the first period was hauled in by Lollar, who picked off another pass intended for Turley.
Greeneville started at the Cyclone 25, and more points were produced off a turnover as Brandon Gash followed his big fullback from four yards away for the touchdown.
"We had some big turnovers there, and we had a couple of breakdowns toward the end of both halves, but overall I'm pleased with how we played," said Zeller. "It's tough coming up here, and I enjoy it. It always seems to be a good game."
A heads up play on the extra-point attempt was turned into a two-point conversion, when Greenway picked up a bad snap and rushed toward the left sideline to barely break the plane of the goal.
The EHS offense continued to struggle with its fourth possession of the game, producing its fourth consecutive turnover when a fumble occurred on a fake handoff to the fullback.
Greeneville struck once again with 8:59 left in the second period as Lollar made a cut to the outside and rushed for a 38-yard touchdown.
The Greene Devils were threatening to add more points toward the end of the half, but Nathan Bishop, making a nice break on the ball, intercepted Greenway short of the goal and made a return to the EHS 41.
The Cyclones took over at their own 41-yard line and elected to bring in Charles Peters at quarterback, replacing Jeffers.
"Weston was having a tough time, and I just wanted to go in and try to show some leadership," said Peters.
Peters marched the Cyclones down the field with the passing attack, completing four out of four passes, including a 40-yard strike to Ryan Kennedy that placed the ball down at the Greene Devil 20.
Facing a third down and seven, Peters found Turley in the right side of the end zone with 28 seconds left to cut the deficit to 22-6 heading into halftime.
"A couple of those balls I threw I just got lucky, and the touchdown I threw I told the guy where I was going to throw it, so fortunately he went and got it," said Peters.
Greeneville came out in its opening series of the second half, and drove it down the field for the score with a couple of big runs coming from Lollar and Greenway.
"I thought when we got that touchdown at the end of the half we could get our team going, but they're a good ball club and kept on rolling showing our defense a few things," said Turley.
Greenway finished the night with 140 yards on the ground on 14 carries with two touchdowns, while Lollar went 130 yards on 12 carries.
A seven yard run off the left side tackle by Gash gave Greeneville a 29-6 lead with 8:52 left in the third quarter.
Elizabethton responded by taking its first series on offense to score with gaining 35 yards on eight plays.
A 50-yard run back on the kickoff by Bailey gave the Cyclones excellent field position, and a one-yard quarterback sneak from Jeffers gave Elizabethton their second touchdown of the night.
The Cyclones were successful with their two-point conversion attempt, as Jeffers threaded the ball to Turley in the end zone.
"We need to work real hard in practice, and practice both on our offense and defense and try to just get ready for next week's conference game," said Turley.
Elizabethton continued to have trouble containing Greenway, as the scrambling quarterback found the open holes and used his speed to make big gains.
"We worked on making the rollout all week," Greenway said. "We knew they liked to blitz a lot, and the line made the shiver and the receivers made the blocks down field when I got past the line."
Greeneville scored again to start the fourth quarter, when Gash pounded it in from three yards out to record his third touchdown of the game.
A bad snap on a punt from Elizabethton turned into the Greene Devils taking over at the Cyclone 15, and it didn't take Greenway long to find his way to the end zone.
Greenway made the rollout to his left, and then tucked it away breaking tackles to score on a 15-yard run.
"The first of the season was tough for us, but everything seems to be clicking for our offense, and the defense is coming together. Hopefully we'll finish up strong," said Greenway.
Elizabethton was unsuccessful in scoring for the remainder of contest, as it was outrushed on the ground 398 yards to 45, with Ernie Bray leading the Cyclone backfield for 27 yards on six carries.
"We played a little bit better in the second half, but we'll just go back and regroup for next week's conference game, and try to win out the rest of them," said Jenkins.