'Betsy frosh rally to beat Johnson Co.
It wasn't the fourth of July, but the fireworks were going off Thursday night at 305 West E Street. Elizabethton and Johnson County ignited the scoreboard for 70 combined points in a freshman game at Rider Field.
After the smoke had cleared, Elizabethton escaped with a 42-28 win over Johnson County after trailing 14-0 in the first quarter.
"I don't understand it, but these kids have to get behind before they start to play," stated Cyclone head coach Jerry Jerkins. "We seemed to come alive after they got those two touchdowns."
Johnson County jumped on the board early in the first period after the Cyclones fumbled a punt on the 5-yard line. Tyler Leonard scored on the first play, giving the 'Horns an 8-0 lead after the two-point conversion by Austin Paisley.
Looking more like a bakery than a football team, the Cyclones offered up another turnover to the Longhorns. Ronnie Roark picked off a 'Betsy pass and returned it to the 40.
Leonard scrambled for 34 yards, giving the 'Horns a first-and-goal at the 6. Eric Burnham ran the final six yards for a 14-0 lead with 5:16 remaining in the first period.
The Cyclones came to life in the second period when Brooks Price faked a pass for a 25-yard run. After gains of eight and nine yards by Jordan Coleman, Price made a great cut off tackle that resulted in a 30-yard touchdown. Bo Carter's PAT cut the lead to 14-7.
Elizabethton got the ball back after a slobber knocker from Jesse Potter and two solid hits from Price and Loving. A diving circus catch by Justin Fuqua off a pass from Wes Anderson resulted in a 37-yard gain. Coleman bulled his way over from the two, tying the game at 14-14 with 33 seconds remaining in the half.
Johnson County marched 66 yards in three plays to regain the lead at the half. Paisley found Leonard for 44 yards, and Roark on the next play for a 10-yard touchdown. The 'Horns led 20-14 at the break.
Elizabethon took the line of a famous Jerry Lee Lewis song and started off the third period like "great balls of fire." Loving "socked" it to the "Horns on the opening kickoff, racing 75 yards for a touchdown after losing a shoe at the 30. Cater's PAT gave "Betsy a 21-20 advantage.
A Loving interception of a Leonard pass then gave the Cyclones good field position, and Price capped off a 40-yard drive with a 4-yard TD. Another Carter PAT made it 28-20 in favor of Elizabethton.
The Black attack continued its stellar defensive play when Fuqua returned another interception to the 30, and Coleman's plunge from one yard out gave 'Betsy a 35-20 cushion.
A costly fumble at the 7 gave Johnson County its first score of the second half. Paisley's 4-yard run pulled Johnson County within seven at 35-28.
Elizabethton rode the excellent blocking of Evan Ellis and Potter en route to their sixth touchdown of the game. Price found a hole behind the duo, which closed out the scoring from both teams.
Price and Loving had stellar ground performances for the Cyclones, with each going over the 100-yard mark. Price accounted for 137 yards while Loving chipped in with 120. Coleman added 62, giving 'Betsy over 300 yards on the ground.
The unsung heroes were the 'Betsy linemen. Ellis, Potter, David Martin, Bucky Harris, Nick Papantoniou and Dustin Flemming opened more holes for the Cyclone running backs than a field full of moles.
Mark Bailey had a solid game in the defensive backfield with several tackles and two batted down passes while Anderson turned in a good outing at quarterback. Carter was a percent 7 for 7 on extra point tries.
"We only have 15 players but they gave it everything they had tonight," said Longhorn head coach Scotty Plyler. "I am very proud of them. This is one of our best efforts of the season. They all gave it 100 percent."
Added Jenkins: "Loving had a great game tonight and so did Potter and Ellis."
Loving's kickoff return broke open the game and Price continues to run the ball well.
The Cyclones host Sullivan Central next week for their final game of the season.
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