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Labor day shootout… Cyclones score in the final minute to defeat D-B, 25-21

While many spent their Labor Day pulled into a beautiful cove on Watauga Lake with the grill fired up filled with burgers and hotdogs, it was business as usual at Citizens Bank Stadium as the Elizabethton Cyclone junior varsity team hooked up for its annual Labor Day meeting with Dobyns-Bennett.

And while things didn’t exactly get off on the right foot for the host Cyclones, once again in the annuals of high school football Elizabethton proved that it’s not how you start but its how you finish that determines the outcome of the game.

The Indians scored a pair of touchdowns in the first half to take a 14-0 lead to the intermission and knew they were set to receive the kickoff in the second half.

Andrew Myers got the boys from Kingsport rolling in the first half when the sophomore running back scored from five yards out with 4:40 showing on the first-quarter clock.

Grayton Manning added the point-after kick to give the visitors a 7-0 advantage.

The Indians added a 51-yard scoring run by Joey Carter just before the half to take the 14-0 edge on Manning’s PAT.

With the Indians scheduled to receive the kickoff, the Cyclones pulled off the perfect short on-side kick when Sean Smithdeal short boot to the Cyclones sideline was picked up on a nice bounce by Jack Farris before stepping out of bounds to put the Cyclones in business.

It was an entirely different looking offense in the second half for EHS as Hayden Nave put the first points on the board with 8:50 left in the third quarter when he bulldozed into the end zone from five yards out.

Smithdeal’s PAT was originally good but a penalty forced a rekick which resulted in a bad snap from the center making it a 14-6 contest.

After holding the Indian offense, the Cyclones went back to work and with 2:38 left in the third quarter, Cyclone quarterback Dalton Mitchell found wide receiver Josh Sweeney on a perfectly placed pass in the end zone and Sweeney did the rest going up high to haul in the 14-yard touchdown reception.

Miscommunication on the extra point once again cost the Cyclones as the Cyclones found themselves trailing 14-12 at the end of the third quarter.

Dobyns-Bennett seemed to seize momentum back by the neck to begin the fourth quarter when Carter scored his second rushing score of the day on an eight-yard rush.

Manning stayed perfect on his PAT’s and the Indians had a nine-point lead, 21-12.

The Cyclones refused to give in as after taking the kickoff and converting on a big third down, Mitchell found Nave on a short pass and the sophomore running back did the rest covering 34 yards on the scoring toss.

Elizabethton continued to struggle on PAT’s as Smithdeal’s PAT was blocked leaving the Cyclones trailing by three points, 21-18, with 4:10 left in the contest.

After playing stellar defense on the ensuing drive led by freshman Mason Ball who was all over the field, the Cyclone offense had a chance to pull off the win as both stands were fully engulfed in the contest in an electric environment.

The Cyclones didn’t waste the opportunity as Mitchell connected on his third scoring toss of the contest as he connected with sure-handed Sweeney on an thrilling 36-yard scoring toss with only :45 seconds remaining to play.

Smithdeal made the all-important PAT to make it a four-point lead with the Indians having one last shot at redemption.

The Indians were going to have to rely on the arm of 6’6 sophomore quarterback Jake Carson but the Cyclone defense was up to the task as the secondary made play after play to keep the Indians out of the endzone although D-B was given a second last-second opportunity by the officials and still couldn’t capitalize as the Cyclones celebrated the hard-fought win.

“It was an unbelievable effort down 14-0 to start,” said Cyclone head coach Brian Jenkins. “We were down 14-0 at the half and I decided to roll the dice and call that onside kick to start the half.

“Great kick by Sean and an even better catch by Jack on the sideline to get it and we just started to roll from there with momentum. It was a great effort.”

The junior varsity ran its overall record to 2-1 and will take on Daniel Boone at Boone next Monday at 6 pm.