'Clones put put muzzle on 'BlazersBy Tim Chambers
Daniel Boone was known for making a difference in the late 1700s by leading a group of settlers though the Cumberland Gap, cutting the wilderness road for many to follow. For the Elizabethton Cyclones it was Josh Hutchins' long run through a gap in the Trailblazers defense that kept the road open for a possible playoff berth.
The sophomore fullback burned Boone for a 77-yard touchdown run in leading 'Betsy to a 23-14 win over the Trailblazers Friday night at Rider Field.
"My line did a great job opening up the hole and coach (Ryan) Witten had told me the night before to watch for the alley to see what was there," Hutchins said. "It was a total team effort that resulted in the touchdown."
Elizabethton's drove 65 yards on its first possession of the game, aided by two crucial penalties, a 32-yard pass, and one of the most bizarre plays of the year that resulted in a score. Boone got flagged for two 15 yard personal foul calls that aided the Cyclone scoring drive.
A 32-yard pass from Weston Jeffers to Derek Nave set up one of the strangest touchdowns in Cyclone history. With the ball at the 16-yard-line, Brent Shaver took a pitch only to fumble but regain possession and sprint toward the end zone.
Shavers was nailed at the five, resulting in another fumble where the ball found a wide open Nathan Bishop in the end zone for a Cyclone touchdown.
"We had worked on that play all week," said a smiling offensive coordinator Steve "Pink" McKinney. "It was good to finally get a key break."
After Elizabethton stopped Boone on its next two possessions, Hutchins silenced the Trailblazers with his spectacular run with 31 seconds remaining in the first stanza. Brian Freeman split the uprights for a 13-0 Cyclone advantage.
"Josh is the type of kid that every coach loves to be around," said Cyclone head coach Eddie Pless. "He gives you everything he has on and off the field."
Boone got its first score after a nine-play, 51-yard drive capped off by a two-yard run by Ben Fox. Brett Ploucha added the PAT to close the margin at 13-7. After holding 'Betsy on its next series, Boone used the outstanding running of Sky Hicks (16 carries, 112 yards) to help take the lead.
Hicks reeled off runs of 34 and 13 yards moving the ball deep in 'Betsy territory, where Fox found Hunter Compton on the next play for an eight-yard touchdown. Ploucha's extra point gave Boone a 14-13 lead.
'Betsy's offense needed a boost and found it by way of Weston Jeffers. The junior quarterback was hotter than a two-dollar pistol for the remainder of the game.
On 'Betsy's final drive before the half, Jeffers threw six straight completions to march his team within field goal range.
Levi Hooten got open for 10 yards while Justin Harmon had a 17-yard grab. Nave found a Boone seam for 23 more, and Bishop had catches of 20 and 13 yards to aid the drive.
After a five yard completion to Ryan Kennedy, 'Betsy sent out Freeman, whose 25-yard field goal was perfect for a 16-14 halftime lead.
"My line did a great job at giving me time to throw," stated Jeffers. "I started off bad and I wanted to make up for it."
Both teams had long drive in the third but failed to put points on the scoreboard. Elizabethton had a 10-play march while Boone stalled on a nine-play drive.
The Cyclone defense stiffened in the fourth quarter, resulting in a Fox on the run for most of the quarter. A big sack by Logan Hyatt forced Boone to punt, and the 'Betsy offense answered with one of its best drives of the season.
Mitchell Blevins took the tailback reins and carved out 16 yards for the Cyclone express. A big third-down completion from Jeffers to Nave kept the drive going, as did a 24-yard completion to Kennedy.
"I knew this was a big game, and if we lost we had no shot at making the playoffs," Blevins said. "The line blocked well and I just wanted to make a contribution in helping our team win."
James Harmon bulled his way in from two yards out as Freeman's PAT was true giving 'Betsy a 23-14 lead with 4:31 remaining in the game. Boone tried to get into the end zone on its final drive, but the outstanding defensive play of Charles Peters would not allow the Trailblazers a sniff.
Peters at one point had five consecutive stops while breaking up a pass play. Hooten prevented a touchdown while Nave laid the wood to Fox on the final offensive play for the 'Blazers.
Jeffers completed an amazing 12 of 17 for 188 yards for the game while Hutchins carried five times for 88 yards to lead the ground attack. James Peterson, nursing two sore toes, had three nice runs in the third period and finished with 36 yards.
Kennedy hauled in four receptions for 62 yards while Nave and Bishop had three each for 61 and 38 yards respectively. Fox completed 10 of 22 for 90 yards, but it was the orange crush defense that shut out the lethal Boone offense in the second half.
Peters had 11 tackles to lead the defense while Hyatt had eight stops, one sack and four quarterback pressures. Nave accounted for nine solo stops.
"We fought through a lot of adversity and came up with a good effort," Pless said. "They stopped a good running back from Johnson County last week and they were keying on Peterson tonight.
"This was a much-needed win for our football team. We've now got to get ready to go on the road and play a good Johnson County team."
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