Cyclone prevail over penalties, Longhorns

By Allen LaMountain

   Despite getting flagged 11 times for 120 yards in penalties, the Elizabethton Cyclones made the Johnson County Longhorns eat a large helping of humble pie on Friday night at Brown-Childress Stadium with a 35-19 victory that moves Betsy into sole possession of third place in the Big Eight Conference.
   The win elevates the Cyclones to 4-4 overall, and 3-2 in the Big Eight, while Johnson County fell to the same marks as Betsy, but the tiebreaker now belongs to EHS for third place.
   The 'Horns came into the contest doing some loud trash-talking about their ability to out-hit the Cyclones, with fullback Wes Hamby declaring the Longhorns would 'kill Elizabethton.'
   "The comments (they made) got to us," said Cyclone guard Clinton Arnold. "We should have disregarded them, but it's so tough (to). We try to give respect to every team we play, and show more class than that. I think we played a good game once we settled down, but penalties hurt us."
   'Horns head coach Mike Atwood, who in defeat maintained that his team had beaten themselves said, "I think we out-hit them and played well enough to win, but we made some mistakes down around the goal line. We feel like we have the hardest-hitting team in the conference."
   What the 'Horns failed to do however, was stop Cyclone tailback Walter Brown who rushed for 202 yards on 24 carries, including 16 and 41 yard touchdown romps.
   Brown also connected with flanker Adam Turley on a 35 yard pass that kept a Cyclone drive alive as Betsy took a 22-7 advantage going into the break.
   "The offensive line did a great job," said Brown. "They seem to be getting better and better every game. Everybody stepped up tonight, but we let some of their comments get inside our heads a little bit."
   Fullback Jason Grace aided the EHS effort with 69 hard rushing yards on just eight attempts, and had six tackles from his defensive end spot as well.
   Johnson County got a break on the opening kickoff as Elizabethton's Lester Bailey fumbled and Michael Reid recovered the loose ball at Betsy's 31 yard line.
   The 'Horns cashed in on their good fortune -- aided by a pass interference penalty -- as quarterback Adam Johnson scored on a nine yard run to give the 'Horns a 7-0 lead.
   On the Cyclones second possession, they drove 46 yards on eight plays to take an 8-7 lead as Brown scored on a 16 yard run, with Brown also tacking on the deuce.
   "Walter and Jason Grace go hard on every play," said Cyclone head coach Tommy Jenkins. "If they're on this field they are going full out. They give 100%, not to discredit other kids, but these two guys play hard on every play."
   Betsy added to it's lead on the next series of downs as quarterback Ryan Curtis hit tight end Vince Redd with a nine yard scoring pass to give EHS a 15-7 lead.
   Redd hauled in two scoring passes on the night for EHS, and contributed six tackles and two quarterback sacks from his middle linebacker spot.
   Curtis continued his improvement under center as he completed eight of 13 passes for 100 yards and three scores.
   "The receivers on this team are stepping up and making the catches," said Curtis. "It's been a matter of getting confident with all the throws, and the offensive line coming together. They have been real dedicated to getting better."
   Overall the Cyclones held a 413-181 advantage in terms of total offense, as EHS dominated in all phases, except self-control, as the Cyclones were flagged five times for unsportsmanlike conduct.
   "I think there was a lot of talking on the field, and I'm very much against that," said Jenkins. "I think you show your character in the way you play football and the way you handle yourself on the field."
   Johnson scored again for the 'Horns in the third period to cut the Cyclone lead to 22-13, but as they had all night EHS had an answer.
   Brown capped a three-play 65-yard drive with a 41-yard scoring burst aided by a superb comeback block by Bailey that gave Brown the corner.
   "Lester threw a great block on that play," Brown commented. "If it wasn't for his block I couldn't have scored on that play."
   Each team scored once more before the final whistle as 'Horns fullback Jonah Dunn had a nine yard run and Curtis threw a six yard scoring toss to Neal Wandell for the final margin of victory.
   When told of coach Atwood's comments of his team out-hitting the Cyclones after the game Jenkins remarked, "I would take exception to that. The last time I checked they don't give points for hitting. You look at the scoreboard and we had more (points) than they did, but I'll go through the film late tonight and check the hits."
   EHS notes : Defensive end Daniel Merryman broke hit right foot in the Daniel Boone game and could be lost for the season. Junior Chad Street did a fine job with six tackles on the night. The entire offensive line was superb allowing Curtis time to pass and paving the way for 278 rushing yards.