Cyclones advance, face Vikings Friday

By Allen LaMountain


   ROGERSVILLE -- A determined Elizabethton Cyclones defense -- led by junior linebacker Vince Redd's 12 tackles -- frustrated a high-powered Cherokee Chiefs offense and escaped with a 13-12 win in round one of the TSSAA 4-A playoffs.
   "The coaches are always telling me to slow down," said Redd in describing his play on the evening. "I over-ran a couple of plays tonight, but I think I played the way the coaches want me to play and the way they think I'm able to play."
   In the early going it looked like it would be a Cherokee rout, as the Chiefs marched 68 yards in a 10-play opening drive that saw them go ahead 6-0 with 6:48 remaining in the opening stanza.
   The Cyclones aided the Cherokee drive with a running into the kicker penalty that gave the Chiefs drive new life, and saw them put the ball into the endzone on a 34 yard pass from quarterback Eric Sandefur to halfback David Stephens.
   The point after touchdown was missed and that would come back to haunt the Chiefs throughout the contest.
   "If we make that kick, we wouldn't have been in a situation to go for two later on," said Cherokee head coach Mike Sivert. "There were two no calls by the officials in the game that hurt us. That has nothing to do with Elizabethton, they played a tremendous ballgame, and that linebacker (Redd) was just outstanding."
   In addition to recording 12 tackles, Redd laid some ferocious hits on the Cherokee running backs that had to make them apprehensive about where big No. 4 was when they took the handoff.
   Redd also intercepted a pass and ran 54 yards with the pick and nearly broke free to score on the play.
   "They were in a slot-right and I just dropped into coverage," said Redd. "The quarterback was looking right at the guy and I credit God with putting me in the right place."
   On the Cyclones first four possessions they managed a meager 23 yards on 12-plays before an EHS big-play got them on the board.
   After forcing a Cherokee punt, EHS took over at it's own 17 yard line and got down to business. Tailback Walter Brown got some solid blocking on a 13-yard burst and an eight yard run around right end.
   On second and two Betsy went for the knockout and got it as quarterback Ryan Curtis launched a 62-yard bomb that wideout Lester Bailey ran under and scored untouched.
   "Walter opened things up for us on that play," said Bailey. "(Cherokee) was looking run all the way on the play. The corner stopped and bit on the reverse and Ryan threw a great pass. The defense really stepped up tonight and Vince was just great."
   Lincoln Orellana booted the point after to give EHS a 7-6 lead.
   The second half saw the Cyclones lose a golden scoring opportunity after stopping Cherokee on downs on the Chiefs 30 yard line, when Brown lost the handle on the football and Cherokee recovered.
   The Chiefs played gracious hosts however, as Sandefur tossed his second interception of the night on the Chiefs first play from scrimmage.
   EHS' Adam Turley made the play and gave the Cyclones possession on the Cherokee 40 yard line. "I saw him looking my way as he rolled to this side," said Turley. "They had been running that out-route all day, and I just read it perfectly and got a good jump on the ball."
   With possession of the football once again, the Cyclones did not waste this chance as Brown capped a two-play drive with an 18 yard run to paydirt.
   However, the Cyclones were hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty after the touchdown and Orellana had to attempt his point after from the 27 yard line. It missed, but Besty now led 13-6.
   On the next Cherokee possession, the Chiefs marched 79 yards in 10-plays taking the game into the fourth quarter before Stephens crashed four yards into the EHS endzone.
   Cherokee then opted to go for the lead on a two-point conversion. Fullback Dustin Frost slipped into the flat and looked to be wide open for the deuce, but Sandefur's pass floated just enough for Bailey to break on the ball and pick it off keeping Betsy on top.
   "That's one pass he wishes he could have back," commented Sivert. "He should have thrown it harder, but he was backpedaling and threw it off the wrong foot. That kid closed on it fast though."
   All week long Cyclone head coach Tommy Jenkins had worried about how his team would react in a close ballgame, but was certainly pleased with the result saying, "I think this game showed that we can play with a good ballclub, and these guys showed what they are made of. Turley made a huge interception and Vince played as well as we have always thought he could play. It was as good a game defensively as we have played."
   Cherokee had one last gasp possession, but Neal Wandell picked off a fullback option pass to seal the win for Betsy.
   The Cyclones will travel to Bristol this Friday for a rematch with the Tennessee High Vikings, who beat Betsy 15-7 in week two.