Tough loss to take
Cyclones drop 10-9 decision to Rebels

By Wes Holtsclaw
star staff

  COLONIAL HEIGHTS--A few feet could've meant a win. The inability to gain a few yards cost them the game.
  The Elizabethton Cyclones doubled the yards of their opposition in the Sullivan South Rebels, but fell late with a missed field goal and final drive stopped short on downs.
  The Rebels came away with a 10-9 victory at Death Valley Thursday night.
  "It came down to two good defensive teams," said Elizabethton coach Eddie Pless. "We had our chances, but we have to take our hats off to South. They played really good football.
  "We thought we played good enough to win. We just didn't get the ball into the end zone. We shot ourselves in the foot."
  Weston Jeffers had 161 yards through the air for Elizabethton on 16 of 27 passing with one interception.
  That one interception led to South's third quarter touchdown that eventually won the game for the team.
  His counterpart Brandon Cole was held to two passing yards, while only gaining 66 yards on the ground.
  South had a solid first drive with big gains from Jake McMillan and Cole, but Matt Dunn missed a 51-yard field goal. Dunn later took advantage of solid gains and redeemed himself with a 30-yard field goal at the end of the first quarter.
  In the second quarter, a big pass interference call put the Cyclones near the red zone. It set up Brian Freeman's first of three field goals, a 31-yarder to tie things up with 7:09 left in the period.
  Elizabethton went on a roll defensively, shutting down the Rebels. Ryan Kennedy gave the Cyclones another boost with a 20-yard punt return which set up an impressive 47-yard field goal from Freeman that sailed 20 yards past the uprights.
  Big defensive plays from Charles Peters and Derek Nave gave the Cyclones the ball once again late. This time Freeman went wide on a 46-yard attempt with 1.5 seconds left in the half.
  In the second half, both teams punted on their first series. However, the Cyclones made their lone and most costly mistake in the game as Chris Arnold returned an interception 24 yards to the 17 for South.
  It set up a one-yard plow for a score from Cole to give South a 10-6 lead.
  Jeffers came through for the team, connecting with Levi Hooten on an impressive 35-yard gain in double coverage to set up Freeman's 26-yard field goal in the fourth.
  After a defensive stall, the Cyclones got the ball on the 41 with 5:44 left in the game. James Peterson and Brent Shaver had some big gains to move the ball down to the four-yard line despite two fumbles on the drive.
  However, Peterson was tripped up in the backfield for a loss of three, and an off sides penalty set Freeman up with a 28-yard attempt which barely sailed left with 1:28 on the clock.
  "He's worked hard the last two years," Pless said of Freeman. "He hit three clutch field goals and just pulled the last one. The three kicks he made gave us a chance and kept us in it."
  Things weren't over yet for the Cyclones.
  Elizabethton held South and burned all three of their timeouts to get the ball with 1:07 left in the game.
  Jeffers drove the team inside the 40, but overthrew Kennedy on a crucial fourth-and-three to give the Rebels the game after a knee.
  South outrushed the Cyclones 100 to 76 in the game, with McMillan adding 34 yards to the Rebel total. For Elizabethton, Peterson gained 31 yards on 15 tries, while the impressive sophomore Shaver had 16 yards on three carries late in the game.
  Kennedy and Hooten led the Cyclone receiving corps with 61 and 48 receiving yards respectively.