Cyclones rough up Red Roosters, 36-8

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   Entering the second half of play, the Elizabethton Cyclones needed insurance to guarantee an extension to their season. In the end the Cyclones defeated the Cocke County Red Roosters much the same way a fox raids a hen house -with quick, precise strikes.
   Elizabethton advanced to the second round of the TSSAA 4-A playoffs to face the 10-1 Morristown West Trojans next Friday after soundly defeating Cocke County by a score of 36-8 at Brown-Childress Stadium on Friday night.
   The first half belonged to EHS as Walter Brown continued to provide plenty of magic and the offensive and defensive front lines manhandled their counterparts with bruising blocks and bone-jarring tackles.
   "We took this Cocke County team very seriously this week in practice," said an elated Cyclone head coach Tommy Jenkins after the contest. "I personally challenged the linemen by telling them that it was going to all start with them."
   Showing they were up for the challenge, the offensive unit opened the doors for Brown, Jordan Bray and QB Ryan Curtis to eat up large chunks of yardage in the first half. Brown got things going as he took a toss from Curtis on the right side and broke no less than four potential tackles on his way for a 49-yard gallop to paydirt and a 6-0 Cyclone lead.
   Most impressive about Brown's run was a pancake block applied to an unexpecting Rooster by Curtis in paving the way for Brown. Craig Estep missed the PAT and the score remained 6-0 EHS.
   The Cyclones had at least two missed opportunities to score in the half as they drove deep in Rooster territory only to turn the ball back over to Cocke County Brown did add another score in the half after picking up 17 more yards on three carries in a Cyclone drive to push the halftime lead to 14-0 after a Curtis to Brown two point conversion was good.
   "We didn't play Cocke County football tonight and we didn't come to play at all," stated Red Rooster coach Wes Jones."Elizabethton is a very talented team and the front seven did a tremendous job against us tonight."
   If games were won by clock management, the Roosters were in the running for the victory. The Roosters dominated the second half in possession time by controlling the ball for 20 minutes to only four for the Cyclones, but it didn't take the Cyclones long to strike and strike hard.
   On the first possession of the second half, the Roosters were facing a fourth down play on the fifteenth play of their drive when QB Jerome Carmichael threw a pass intended for Dexter Carr. EHS defensive back Mitchell Blevins ripped the ball out of the air and raced for a 55-yard touchdown run that fired up the Cyclone faithful.
   Curtis hit tight end Vince Redd for a two-point conversion and a 22-0 Cyclone lead with 5:24 left in the third period. The Cyclone defensive unit was at it again on the Red Rooster's following drive as big hits from senior Michael Porter and junior Adam Turley forced Cocke County to a three downs and out situation.
   "We came ready for their veer offense tonight," stated Porter. "They're a big physical team, so we had to step it up."
   On the attempted punt by Steven Ball from the Cocke County 14-yard line, big defensive end Eric Cannon came charging in and blocked the punt to set the Cyclones up at the Rooster's 4-yard line. After a Bray carry for three yards, Brown outraced the Cocke County secondary to the left side for his third touchdown of the night.
   Estep's PAT was true and the Cyclones led 29-0 with 2:34 left in the third quarter. The Cyclones did have another scoring attempt go by the wayside in the third after holding the Roosters, but fumbled the ball away deep inside Cocke County territory.
   The play that will probably stand out most on the night for everyone in attendance was a totally gutsy play by EHS tight end Redd in the failed drive. After taking a Curtis pass at midfield, Redd raced down the sideline where possibly every Red Rooster defensive player on the field was attached to the big senior as he drug them to the Cocke County 21-yard line for a 39-yard pickup for the 'Clones.
   Cocke County tried to get something going after the fumble recovery, but once again the Cyclone secondary was up to the task with sophomore Nathan Bishop making a super over-the-shoulder interception on a Carmichael pass. Bray capped off a brilliant night for himself as he burst up the middle and broke free of would-be tacklers for a 25-yard touchdown.
   Estep knocked the kick through the uprights and the Cyclones were in cruise control with a 36-0 lead with 6:40 remaining in the contest. Ball managed to end his senior campaign with a one yard plunge with 2:01 remaining in the contest and scored the two-point conversion to give the Red Roosters their only tally of the night.
   "We wanted to prove ourselves as a defensive unit tonight," said senior lineman Matt Myers in reflecting back on the contest. "There were times we bent, but we never did break as I think Carmichael really got intimidated by how we were in his face the whole night."
   The night was full of big hits on defensive as Porter, Turley, Justin Grace, Clinton Vannoy, Evan Lindauer and Myers appeared to cause total chaos for the Red Rooster offensive unit.
   Said Grace: "There were times we seemed to crumble, but we played with a lot of heart out there tonight. I think this will help get our heads cleared and we will be ready to go against Morristown West next Friday night."
   Offensively, the Cyclones continued to move the ball well on the ground, while still trying to get the passing game on track. A lot of the credit for the success of the backs has to go to the line up front where the challenge was issued by Coach Jenkins.
   "The coaches did a great job of getting us ready for the defensive scheme of Cocke County," stated senior lineman Brandon Collins. "We have a good shot at beating West if our line continues to make the blocks for our backs to run through."
   Brown picked up 131 yards rushing on the night and three scores while Bray finished off the evening with his best varsity performance in terms of yards, picking up 42 yards and a score. Curtis chipped in with 29 rushing yards, 39 passing yards, and a pancake.
   Carmichael, who passed for 234 yards against Volunteer, was held to a 8 of 18 night for only 34 yards and three interceptions. Ball finished the night with 26 carries for 113 yards and a score while Mickey Grimes added 74 yards on 21 touches. The Roosters ran twice the offensive plays as Elizabethton, but couldn't punch it in at the critical times.
   Next Friday night will indeed be a challenge for the Cyclones as they will have to play a complete game if they are to defeat the tough Trojans and advance on in the playoffs. It will be a certainty that the coaching staff and players will be focused for their next foe.
   Said Jenkins: "The main thing is we won and we get to play again. There are a lot of teams that have already packed it in for the season, but we are still alive. We are looking for that ballgame where we put everything together. Maybe that will happen next week against Morristown West -- we'll just have to wait and see."