Cyclones quell ‘Canes down to a breeze
BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
It was a dead-on collision course for two storms in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs being played at Citizens Bank Stadium with one surviving to play another week and the other seeing their season come to a close.
After an opening quarter that saw the home team, Elizabethton Cyclones, sputter like a vehicle when a little water gets mixed into a tank of gas, once the cylinders started clicking it was just a matter of time before the Cyclones took control and never looked back to take a 35-7 win over the visiting East Hamilton Hurricanes from the Chattanooga area.
A Cade Russell eight-yard run put the Cyclones out front with 4:20 left in the opening quarter as Sean Smithdeal booted the point-after attempt to make it 7-0.
After forcing a turnover when it appeared the ‘Canes were heading for a score near the goal line, Elizabethton’s Mr. Football candidate Parker Hughes stepped from wide receiver to running back and took the football 94 yards running past and ahead of the East Hamilton defenders to easily score.
Smithdeal kicked the PAT and the Cyclones took a 14-0 lead into the second quarter of play.
The Cyclones tacked on another score just a little over three minutes into the second quarter when the Cyclones other Mr. Football candidate Bryson Rollins rolled into the end zone from 10 yards out to make it a 21-0 EHS lead.
Hughes stepped back out to his wide receiver spot and before the ‘Canes could blink, the senior hauled in a 79 yard scoring toss from Rollins to make it 28-0 on Smithdeal’s kick.
The Cyclones went to the locker room up by the same 28-0 score.
Needing to put points on the board fast, the ‘Canes finally cracked the egg on their side of the scoreboard as quarterback Haynes Eller looked to pass before pulling the football in and scampered three yards into the end zone for a score.
Ethan Hixson’s PAT was good and the score now read 28-7.
Hughes collected his third score of the game in the fourth quarter with 3:07 remaining to send the Cyclones into next week’s quarterfinal contest and their 27th straight win.
The run covered 25 yards and Smithdeal booted the PAT for the final score.
While Hughes and Rollins had big games, it was the hard-nosed running of Russell who carried a bulk of the load offensively for the Cyclones toting the mail 27 times for 171 yards and the lone score.
Hughes finished with nine rushes for 146 yards and the two scores plus the one reception for 79 yards to account for 225 all-purpose yards in the contest.
Rollins was 4-of-12 passing for 89 yards and a score and carried 12 times for 45 yards and a score.
For East Hamilton, Eller connected on 30-of-51 passes covering 306 yards with one interception and the only score of the game for the ‘Canes.
The Cyclones finished with 451 yards of total offense to 308 for East Hamilton.
Defensively, Jake Roberts had an interception for the Cyclones while Caleb Johnson added a quarterback sack. Defensive lineman Trenton Taylor also pounced on a fumble.
“Just really proud of our guys,” said Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten. “We put the football on the ground twice which is unlike us but we fought through some adversity in that first quarter and we could have easily have crumbled right there.
“Our guys did a great job of just rallying and keeping our composure and we were able to come away with it.”
Thanks to Greeneville coming back in the last 26 seconds of their game to defeat Anderson County, the Cyclones will be at home next Friday to face off with the Greene Devils for the second time this season with a trip to the semifinals on the line.
Kickoff will be at 7 pm.