Cyclones last quarter heroics squash losing streak to Science Hill, 36-34

Published 12:16 am Saturday, August 18, 2018

For those fans that left early with the Elizabethton Cyclones trailing 28-17 with 6:45 remaining in the contest to the Science Hill Hilltoppers, shame on you for missing one whale of a finish.

Elizabethton put together one of the best high school football comebacks in recent memory to turn the 11-point deficit into a 36-28 advantage with 1:12 remaining and then fought off a last-minute charge by the ‘Toppers to put an emphatic stop to the nine-year losing streak to the Johnson City neighbors.

“It was just a great game by both teams and our kids laid it all out on the line tonight,” said a sweat-drenched, emotional Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten after the game. “Heat, cramping—just everybody stepped up tonight.

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“You have got to credit the guys in the orange shirts. There was so much adversity but we never quit. It’s been a long time and we have been knocking hard on that door for several years and all those teams that just kept pushing and pushing—that’s why you put in the work.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Cyclones burst on the scoreboard first when Corey Russell barreled in from the 2-yard line and Jaxton Holly’s point-after attempt made it 7-0 Cyclones with 10:11 showing in the second quarter.

A perfectly executed on-side kick by Holly that kissed the sideline but stayed in bounds quickly gave the ball back to the Cyclones.

After the drive stalled, Holly split the uprights with a 33-yard field goal making it a 10-0 Cyclone lead.

Austin Outland put the ball back in the hands of the Cyclone offense on the ensuing ‘Topper drive as he stepped in front of an A.J. Stewart pass and returned the ball to the Science Hill 5-yard line,

Senior signal caller Carter Everett found Parker Hughes on a perfectly lofted jump-ball pass and catch in the corner of the ‘Topper end zone and the Cyclones were rolling 17-0 after Holly’s PAT.

Science Hill added a score to make it 17-7 at the intermission.

It was the ‘Toppers who seized the momentum in the second half utilizing it’s size to wear on the Cyclone defense to turn the 10-point deficit into the 28-17 edge with 6:45 left in the game.

Many fans headed for the gate with a little drizzle starting to fall and the Cyclones trailing, but the fireworks were just getting ready to begin.

Everett’s 1-yard plunge with 4:37 cut the lead to 28-23 as the 2-point conversion failed.

After Holly put the kickoff into the end zone, the Cyclone defense got a second breathe and held the ‘Toppers on fourth-and-3 to get the ball back with 3:44 remaining.

The Cyclones were needing a big play and got just what the doctor ordered as Hughes once again was in the mix going up to haul in a 35-yard scoring toss from Everett while being interfered with by a pair of ‘Topper defenders.

Once again, the 2-point conversion failed and the Cyclones clung loosely to a 29-28 lead.

Russell stuffed Stewart on the ensuing possession as the ‘Toppers tried to convert a fourth-and-5 to give his team the ball back with 2:02 remaining in the game.

The senior speedster would scamper in from 2 yards out to make it a 36-28 game with 1:12 left.

Science Hill wasn’t done as the ‘Toppers took the kickoff and marched down the field to score on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Stewart to Clifton Maxwell, but two five-yard penalties cost the ‘Toppers dearly as the all-important two-point conversion failed leaving it a 36-34 game.

With 14 seconds remaining, the ‘Toppers got an onside kick recovery before senior Jared Grindstaff put the game to bed with a sack of Stewart around the 45-yard line of Elizabethton to set off pandemonium in Citizens Bank Stadium.

The Cyclones will be back at home next Friday night as they play host to South Greene at 7:30 pm.