First half deficit too much for Cyclones to overcome
Published 12:20 am Saturday, November 12, 2022
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CLINTON – The Elizabethton Cyclones dug themselves a hole and Anderson County did just enough to keep throwing the dirt on top of the Cyclones in the 2022 BlueCross Bowl Championship Class 4A second-round contest.
Building a 20-7 halftime advantage, the Mavericks survived a fumble at the one-yard line with under two minutes to play to advance to a showdown among unbeatens next week with Greeneville by ending the Cyclones season with a 30-24 victory.
The Mavericks took advantage of two first-half touchdown scoring tosses from Mr. Football finalist Walker Martinez and a Gavin Noe four-yard plunge to build the lead in the opening half.
Martinez hit Nick Moog on a six-yard toss and also connected with Bryson Vowell on a 17-yard pass with 3:27 left in the half to extend the Maverick lead. Chris Nelson converted on 2-of-3 point after attempts for the Mavericks.
Elizabethton’s lone first-half score came on a 24-yard Dalton Mitchell to Cade Russell pass in the second quarter. Caleb Campbell booted the point-after.
The second half was an entirely different Cyclone offensive effort after the Cyclone defense held Anderson Co. on the opening kickoff of the half, the Cyclones cut into the lead.
Mitchell connected with Russell once again on a 57-yard scoring toss that shaved the lead to 20-14 with 9:51 in the third quarter.
The Mavericks wasted little time answering the score when it was Martinez once again connecting on a 37-yard scoring pass to Tate Russell. Anderson Co. converted the two-point conversion to push their lead back to 28-14.
Elizabethton once again answered the Mavericks score with one of their own as the Mitchell to Russell connection kept on going – this time on a 27-yard toss with 2:04 left in the third quarter. Campbell’s PAT made it a 28-21 contest heading to the fourth quarter.
Once again the defense held for Elizabethton and the Cyclones appeared to be driving for another touchdown when a penalty and a couple of Maverick stops forced a fourth down.
Cyclone coach Shawn Witten called on Campbell who booted a 34-yard field goal with 8:09 to play to narrow the lead to 28-24.
The Mavericks looked like they were going to drive for a game-clinching score when running back Noe was stripped of the football and the Cyclones recovered at the one-yard line with one final gasp of hope left for their season.
Unfortunately for the Cyclones, the Maverick defense rose to the occasion forcing the Cyclones into a fourth and eight yards to go.
Mitchell was sacked in the end zone for a safety by Eli Davis to give the Mavericks a 30-24 lead with just a few ticks left on the clock.
An onside kick was recovered by the Mavericks to seal the win.
Anderson County finished with 359 total yards to the Cyclones 275. Mitchell outdueled Martinez as the senior Cyclone signal caller finished 14-of-17 for 216 yards and three scores. Martinez was 13-of-20 for 171 yards and three scores.
Nate Stephens led the Cyclones on the ground as the senior had 22 rushes for 71 yards. Noe was the difference maker in the contest for the Mavericks as the bruising back toted the ball 25 times for 116 yards while Moog added 84 yards on 18 carries.
Russell finished with three receptions covering 108 yards and three scores for Elizabethton. Teddy Orton finished his senior season with three receptions for 39 yards.
The Mavericks sacked Mitchell three times in the game.