Toot! Toot!… Cyclones hold the throttle down in taking inaugural Railroad Rumble
Published 2:00 am Saturday, August 21, 2021
BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
JOHNSON CITY – It was only fitting that midway through the third quarter that a train passed by William B. Greene Stadium where the Elizabethton Cyclones and the Science Hill Hilltoppers were squaring off in the inaugural Railroad Rumble sponsored by Carter County Bank.
By the time the final whistle sounded, Science Hill had to feel like they had been run over by a train as the Cyclone Express was chugging full throttle to down the home team on the board by a 34-15 score that marked the fourth consecutive win for the Cyclones as the senior class finished undefeated against the ‘Toppers in their four years as an Elizabethton Cyclone.
The fun got started early for the Cyclones as Elizabethton picked right back up where they left off after the 2020 Class 4A State Championship game as senior quarterback Bryson Rollins found senior receiver Jake Roberts for a 47-yard bomb with only 2:04 ticked off the first-quarter clock.
Sean Smithdeal booted the PAT and the Cyclones were out of the gate quickly.
Elizabethton found pay dirt once again just before the quarter ended when Rollins rumbled in from the three-yard line and Elizabethton took a 14-0 lead after Smithdeal split the uprights once again.
Science Hill finally found their stride in the second quarter as a Baylor Brock four-yard scamper with 10:55 left before the half got the home team on the board. Ben O’Daniel took care of the two-point conversion on a pass from Jaysahn Swartz to make it a 14-8 ballgame.
The score jumpstarted Coach Stacy Carter’s squad as the Cyclones went quietly on their next possession and the ‘Toppers made good on the defensive effort as Brock took off up the middle for a 58-yard run.
Wes Leichssenring booted the point-after and Science Hill seized the lead for the first time in the contest.
However, that would be the last time that the ‘Toppers would even smell the lead as Elizabethton took over offensively from that point forward.
Rollins lumbered his way for a 57-yard scoring romp to give the Cyclones the lead back on Smithdeal’s kick to make it a 21-15 lead. The Cyclones weren’t finished there as Rollins found Roberts yet again on an 11-yard scoring toss with only four seconds to play before the half to make it a 28-15 Cyclone advantage at the break.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Cyclones tacked another score on the board for good measure in the fourth quarter when Roberts reeled in his third receiving score of the game with 8:52 remaining in the game.
The point-after failed as the Cyclones held down the fort and kept the ‘Toppers out of the endzone the rest of the way as Cyclone Nation went wild when the final horn sounded.
“I am more prouder than I have ever been in the orange and black,” said an emotional Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten. “We’ve got a long way to go and we are going to get a lot better but I am just so proud of our senior leadership and proud of our players.
“We worked overtime to get to this point. We knew it wasn’t going to be perfect but we played our tails off tonight. I told the guys before the game that we were going to win this game no matter what and the guys answered the challenge today.”
**Game notes – The Cyclone defense played lights out when it mattered the most despite flags against them when Science Hill was threatening to punch it in for a score. The defense had two big fourth-down stops near the goal line led by their line and stellar play by Harrison Lane who made some outstanding plays late from his linebacker slot.
Hats off as well to the ‘Betsy Band that absolutely was amazing in their first performance under new Band Director Jonathan Valentine. Also, Cyclone Nation deserves a lot of praise as well showing up and filling out the visitor’s side as well as the bank beyond the endzone. It will undoubtedly be the largest crowd to sit inside the stadium this season.
The win marks the 31st straight Cyclone victory as the beat goes on.
ELIZABETHTON 14 14 0 6 — 34
SCIENCE HILL 0 15 0 0 — 15
E — Jake Roberts 47 pass from Bryson Rollins (Smithdeal kick), 9:56
E — Rollins 3 run (Smithdeal kick), 0:49
SH — Baylor Brock 4 run (Ben O’Daniel pass from Jaysahn Swartz), 10:55
SH — Brock 58 run (Leichssenring kick), 8:59
E — Rollins 57 run (Smithdeal kick), 6:40
E — Roberts 11 pass from Rollins (Smithdeal kick), 0:04
E — Roberts 16 pass from Rollins (kick failed), 8:52
FIRST DOWNS 20 9
PASSING (C-A-I) 12-19-0 12-23-0
PASSING YARDS 191 111
RUSHES-YARDS 39-192 30-173
TOTAL YARDS 383 284
FUMBLES-LOST 0-0 0-0
PUNTS-AVG. 2-23.5 4-20.3
PENALTIES-YARDS 13-109 9-90