Cyclones blast Blue Devils, 55-14

By Allen LaMountain

   ERWIN--Needing just 83 yards to put his name on top of the Elizabethton High School single-season rushing list, senior tailback Walter Brown ran for 125 yards in EHS' 55-14 win over the Unicoi Blue Devils on Friday night.
   Brown set the mark in the second period on a 43-yard touchdown run that gave him 109 yards in a first half that saw 'Betsy race to a 41-0 advantage and never look back.
   "It's a great honor for me," said Brown, who finished the regular season with 1,688 yards and 23 touchdown runs. "With all the great backs this school has produced, to be at the top of that list is an honor. It shows that hard work does pay off."
   Brown broke the record of former Cyclone and University of Tennessee standout Dale Fair, who rushed for 1,626 yards in his junior season to set the bar.
   With the win, EHS (5-2 MLC, 7-3 overall) clinched second place as Daniel Boone bumped Sullivan Central from the playoffs with a 34-28 win in Blountville to secure fourth place for the Trailblazers.
   Sullivan South is third and, of course, Tennessee High (7-0, 9-1) wins its second straight Mountain Lakes Conference title with another unbeaten conference mark.
   Against the Devils -- who hurt themselves with six fumbles (four lost) -- the Cyclones scored early and often. 'Betsy's first series went nowhere and junior punter Brandon Blevins kicked the ball away to Unicoi who suffered the first miscue of the night when Dustin Stephenson lost the handle.
   That set EHS up at the Blue Devils 13-yard line from where Jordan Bray scored on the first play to give the Cyclones a 7-0 lead.
   "That first turnover took a lot of steam out of us," said UC head coach Larry Howell. "We stopped them and got the ball, but gave it right back and things kind of snowballed from there."
   On Unicoi's third possession -- with the Blue Devils trailing by a 14-0 tally -- Cyclone CB Lester Bailey picked off Unicoi QB Josh Hensley and returned the pick to the UC 27-yard line.
   "I didn't get any balls thrown my way tonight," said Bailey. "So I took one of theirs. I just love to play ball man, I'm a straight baller. EHS was representing tonight."
   From there it took the Cyclones six plays to strike paydirt as Brown carried over the left side for a two-yard touchdown to make it a 21-0 contest, just seconds into the second period.
   Another big play from the Cyclone defense came with the score 28-0 in the second period when Hensley fumbled and EHS senior LB Vince Redd pounced on the loose ball at the UC 21-yard line.
   Redd scored with the gift and the rout was on with 'Betsy now holding a 34-0 lead as Craig Estep missed the PAT. Estep was good on seven-of-eight PAT kicks on the night.
   After once again forcing a Blue Devils punt, the Cyclones took over at the UC 45. On first down Jordan Bray dove into the line for two yards and on second down Brown made his run into the record books.
   Taking a pitch, Brown bolted through the UC line and shifted left down the visitors' sideline on a 43-yard touchdown romp that gave EHS a 41-0 halftime lead.
   "The line has blocked great for me all year," said Brown. "A lot of the credit goes to them and I am very thankful for the job they have done. The season's not over though, we have to get out there and practice hard this week to get ready for the playoffs."
   Cyclone head coach Tommy Jenkins was pleased with the win, but saw a few flaws in the 'Betsy offensive attack, saying: "We have to throw the ball better. (Ryan) Curtis is a good quarterback and we need him to come around. Turley and Curtis had a nice hookup with Adam making a great play on the catch. If we are to play well in the playoffs we will need a good mix of run and pass on offense.
   "I'm extremely pleased for Walter, and defensively I was well-pleased. We forced turnovers and gang tackled probably the best I have seen."
   Curtis finished with 1-for-6 passing for 46 yards and he knows he can do better, saying: "I know we can play better, and I can play a lot better. We will have to play better in the playoffs. This is a big win, but we can't afford to make mistakes."
   Unicoi County senior halfback Chris Brown, who rushed for 114 yards on the night, scored on a three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to get the Devils on the scoreboard and cut into a 48-0 'Betsy lead.
   "Brown has been a solid player here for four years," said Howell. "We went to an entirely new offense this year and Brown adjusted well. We moved the ball well at times tonight, but the turnovers hurt us a lot."
   EHS now knows that it will get one more home contest -- this Friday against Cocke County, which pulled of a 36-34 win over Volunteer to set the Falcons down to fourth -- and that they have to take advantage of it.
   "I think we did an outstanding job tonight," said junior WR J.R. McFarland. "Everybody contributed to a good win, and we need to carry that over to the playoffs."
   EHS notes: Redd finished the regular season as the leading tackler on the Cyclones with 47 solo tackles and 26 assists for a total of 73. Safety Michael Porter was next with (33-19, 52), Derrick Nave finished third with (29-18, 47). DE Evan Lindauer had 20 combined tackles and assists, but was the team's leading QB sack artist with four. Clinton Vannoy and Eric Cannon each had three sacks to finish second on the squad in that category.