Cyclones cage Falcons in Region 1 4-A tilt

Published 12:37 am Saturday, October 16, 2021

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CHURCH HILL – The Volunteer Falcons were feeling pretty good about their chances at home on Senior Night to beat the defending Class 4A State Champion Elizabethton Cyclones and grab second place in Region 1 4-A but the Cyclones were having absolutely nothing to do with that notion as Coach Shawn Witten’s team showed why they are ranked third in the state by dominating the Falcons to the tune of a 49-12 win.

Falcons put up a first-half battle
The Cyclone opened the game going up 14- 0 in the first quarter as Cade Russell reeled of a one-yard scoring plunge and quarterback Bryson Rollins put the pigskin in from nine yards out to take a 14-0 lead on Sean Smithdeal’s two point-after kicks.

It looked like the Cyclones were going to put on one of their classic offensive shows, but Volunteer wasn’t about to bow down to the boys from ‘Betsy.

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However, quarterback Garrison Barrett connected with tight end Cason Christian on an 18-yard scoring pass to narrow the lead to 14-6 after the kick was blocked.

The Cyclones wasted little time in answering the Volunteer score as Rollins hooked up with fellow senior Jake Roberts on two deep strikes, 31 and 53 yards, to extend the lead to 28-6 on Smithdeal’s conversions of the PAT.

Volunteer had one final opportunity before the half and made the most of it as Barrett connected with Peyton Steele on a 14-yard strike with 21 seconds left in the first half to make it 28-12 at the break as the point-after attempt was once again blocked.

Making a statement
The Cyclones were determined to send a message that they are still ready, willing, and able to take on all comers as they work their way toward the playoffs as an initial stand after the Falcons received the second-half kickoff resulted in a three and out for the home team and from there the Cyclones were in full control.

Rollins added his second rushing touchdown of the contest with 5:48 left in the third quarter with Smithdeal’s kick once again being true to extend the lead to 35-12.  Cade Russell’s interception at the Cyclone five-yard line prevented another Falcon score and Elizabethton closed it out in the fourth quarter with a Nate Stephens 27-yard touchdown reception and a Russell five-yard run capping off the scoring after Smithdeal finished his night perfect.

Too many stars
It would be tough to pick a star of the game as several standouts rose to the top. Rollins finished his night rushing 15 times for 104 yards and two scores and added another 212 yards of offense through the air on 8-of-13 passing and three more scores having a hand in five total scores.

Russell was in beast mode from the running back position as the junior carried the football 27 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns.

Jake Roberts was doing his best Antonio Brown impression at wide receiver as the senior had four receptions covering 180 yards and scoring twice.

The Cyclones amassed 480 yards of offense – 212 passing and 268 yards on the ground.

Defensively, Bradley Cannon, Trenton Taylor, Drew Turner, and Andrew Blevins were all in on sacks against Volunteer quarterback Barrett. Russell added the interception and Dalton Mitchell pounced on a Falcon fumble.

The Cyclones are scheduled for an off-week next week before wrapping up regular-season play at Seymour.