Cyclone season ends in Morristown mud

By Allen LaMountain

     MORRISTOWN--The coaches of both the Morristown and Elizabethton football teams probably had to take a head count before boarding their respective buses to make sure none of either teams' players were swallowed up by the quicksand bog that passed for a football field at Burke-Toney Stadium on Friday night.
     Both squads slugged it out in a steady rain as the Trojans showed that they had a few players too many for the Elizabethton Cyclones to handle in a 35-14 Morristown West victory in round two of the TSSAA 4-A playoffs.
     Tailback Chris Davis rushed for 224 yards with two scores and DE Brandon Fenney sacked Betsy QB Ryan Curtis three times as the West defense held EHS to minus-43 yards rushing.
     "Coach Woods apologized for the condition of the field, but there wasn't much he could have done about it," said EHS head coach Tommy Jenkins. "As much as anything the field conditions hurt us. (Curtis) had to try and throw the ball like a shot put. You couldn't get a grip on it. But give credit where it's due, Morristown (West) is just a good football team."
     When he wasn't running for his life from Fenney, EHS senior QB Ryan Curtis had a solid night throwing for 139 yards on seven-of-17 passing -- including an 18-yard scoring toss to TE Vince Redd.
     "They have a darn good team," said Curtis. "Number 98 (Fenney) was on me all night and did a good job of putting pressure on me. We tried our best, we all played as hard as we could, but Morristown just has a great team."
     West came out like a house afire after forcing the Cyclones three-and-out on EHS' first possession with tailback Charles Rucker capping an eight-play, 63-yard drive with a seven-yard run that gave the Trojans a 7-0 lead.
     After another punt by 'Betsy, Morristown West took over at it's own 43 yard line. Davis took the handoff from QB Drew Southerland and blasted through the Cyclone line and cut left.
     Davis eluded three would-be tacklers on his way to a 57-yard scoring scamper that saw the Trojan lead move to 14-0 after Curtis Long's second PAT try was good.
     Down by two scores, the Cyclones took possession at their own 24 yard line and with Curtis firing passes to Redd and Adam Turley moved to the Trojans five-yard line. A sack by Fenney set the Cyclones back to the 16-yard line and a pair of negative yardage runs by Walter Brown and a penalty set Betsy back to the 27-yard line where the drive stalled on downs.
     West responded with a solid drive that carried the Trojans to the Cyclone 21-yard line where the team faced a fourth and 17 play. Southerland found WR Tyler Moore alone inside the 'Betsy five-yard line and fired a scoring strike that gave West a 20-0 advantage.
     EHS -- on its next possession -- still could not move the football on the ground and was forced to punt once again, but on the third play of the Trojans next series Davis fumbled.
     After a solid submarine tackle by Eric Cannon, Davis lost the handle at the 20-yard line and Brown scooped up the loose ball and ran in for the touchdown that cut the Trojan lead to 20-7.
     Another Trojan fumble, this one by Rucker, was recovered by Redd setting up the Cyclones at the West 28-yard line. Brown got a first down to the 18 from where Curtis and Redd hooked up on a touchdown pass that shaved the Trojan lead to 20-14.
     "We were killing ourselves at the end of the first half," said Trojans head coach Don Woods. "All I said at the half was that we needed to stop stopping ourselves. We put them in the game with our own mistakes."
     The Trojans heeded their coaches' words as Davis busted loose on the first play from scrimmage in the second half on another 57-yard touchdown run that ballooned West's lead to 28-14 after the two-point conversion.
     "That quick score really hurt us," said Jenkins. "The kids were all excited at the half that we were down by just six points. If we could have made them drive the ball instead of giving up the quick one, it may have made a difference but who knows. I can't fault the kids because they played as hard as they could."
     Kaleb Goforth picked off Curtis on the Cyclones next possession and Trojans fullback Adam Shockley then converted the turnover into points on a one-yard run that provided the final tally of the night.
     EHS notes: Redd had a solid night with five receptions for 97 yards and a score on offense, while being involved in 15 tackles with a fumble recovery on defense. Brown was held to a negative 18 yards rushing, but as coach Jenkins said, "The field conditions -- as much as anything -- helped shut Walter down. He's a cut-back runner and there was nothing there for him with the footing so bad."