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A bear skinning… Cyclones run roughshod over Grainger Co. for a 63-16 region win

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
RUTLEDGE – After the first half of Friday’s contest between Elizabethton and Grainger County in Rutledge, the Grizzlies might have been better to high-tail it off to the mountains that sits just to the side of their stadium than to have returned for the final 24 minutes of action as the Cyclones once again found their stride after a tough battle last week at Boone resulting in a 63-16 victory for Elizabethton.
The first two possessions of the contest set the tone for the Cyclones as Nate Stephens took the very first snap that Elizabethton had and raced 47 yards for a Cyclone touchdown.
Sean Smithdeal’s point-after was straight and true and the visitors were up 7-0.
On Elizabethton’s second possession, it was a repeat of their first possession with different characters as quarterback Bryson Rollins found his favorite receiver in Parker Hughes as Hughes won the foot race to the end zone on a 61-yard touchdown reception as the Cyclones led after one quarter of play 14-0.
Elizabethton tacked on two more scores early in the second quarter as Rollins accounted for both scores on rushes of three and one yard to push the lead to 28-0 with 6:15 left before the half.
Grainger final cracked the goose egg on their side of the scoreboard as Reggie McBee rambled in from six yards out to make it a 28-8 game after his two-point conversion.
The Cyclones quickly erased that score when they answered with a little trickery on their ensuing drive as Rollins threw out in the flat to Jake Roberts who rifled a perfect pass down the field to Hughes who finished the deal on the 69-yard touchdown reception as ‘Betsy took a 35-8 lead to the locker room.
Elizabethton didn’t miss a beat in the second half as it was a Rollins to Hughes connection once again on an 11-yard scoring toss with 6:58 in the third quarter making it a 42-8 game on Smithdeal’s PAT.
A 48-yard pick-six by Roberts made it 49-8 heading into the fourth quarter of play.
Dawson Holt scored the Grizzlies second touchdown of the night with a two-yard plunge and Mcbee finished off the two-point conversion as the gap closed to 49-16.
Two big rushing touchdowns by LaDarian Avery who was a runaway diesel locomotive in the second half often delivering pad level pops to defenders that sent them tumbling backwards closed out the contest for the Cyclones as Elizabethton brought home the 63-16 victory.
“it was a long trip for us but we were excited to get back on the field and worked really hard and focused on the fundamentals and techniques this week in practice and it kind of paid off in the game,” said Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten.
“We really wanted to establish the run game with the three offensive linemen back. We really wanted to execute the offense and play really tough defense against these guys.”
The Cyclones ran their win streak to 19 straight dating back to 2019.
Hughes finished the contest with seven receptions for 204 yards and three touchdowns while Avery carried the ball 11 times for 115 yards and the two scores.
Stephens also reached the 100-plus rushing mark as the sophomore carried seven times for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Rollins was 8-of-11 for 133 yards and two scores while Roberts added one pass for 69 yards and the touchdown.
Elizabethton will be back on the road next week at Cherokee.