Cyclones out-muscle Trojans in rain-shortened contest

Published 3:40 pm Monday, August 28, 2023

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The Elizabethton Cyclones continued their 2023 road tour as their travels took them to Hamblen County, where they butted heads with the home-standing Morristown West Trojans were waiting to welcome them to Burke-Toney Stadium for the contest between the Class 4-A Cyclones and the Class 5-A Trojans.
In a contest that often times was reminiscent of a non-officiated martial arts fight in an octagon versus the gridiron, the Cyclones rallied from a stale first half to grab a 20-7 lead before the rains came and brought the game to an end with 9:18 left to play in the contest.
The final score will go down as a 20- 7 victory.
The Game
First Half
The Cyclones took the opening kickoff and looked to establish some early-game momentum going to the airway as sophomore quarterback Rhett Slagle, coming off his first win as a varsity quarterback over Science Hill in week one, looked to push one into the end zone early.
However, the Mo West defense had something to say about that as they stepped in front of a Slagle pass to stop the drive, ending the threat.
It was the Cyclone defense’s turn to shine and they did just that, slamming the door on the Trojan’s offensive scheme to get the ball back into the hands of the offense.
Once again, disaster struck for Slagle as a pass was tipped and again intercepted by the Trojan defense.
The Cyclone defense wasn’t about to back down as they did their job in keeping the game at a stalemate at the end of the first quarter, 0-0.
Quarter two played out much the same way as neither team seemed to get going in terms of offense until Elizabethton finally managed to strike pay dirt with under three minutes left before the half.
Slagle found wide receiver Eli Blevins with a clear look into the end zone on a 24-yard scoring toss to give the Cyclones a 7-0 edge on a Will Bowers point-after boot was true.
That was how the half ended in a 7-0 lead for ‘Betsy.
Second Half
With the Trojans set to receive the opening kickoff of the half, kicker Caleb Campbell lined up to get the half underway. However, on the kick, Campbell managed to kick the football to an area where there weren’t any Trojans and the ball took a kick backwards where Campbell fell on top of the football to give the Cyclones great field position.
That opportunity wasn’t squandered as the Cyclones went into a heavy package near the goal line, where Jeriah Griffin scampered into the end zone from three yards out to extend the lead to 13-0 after the PAT failed with just 30 seconds off the game clock.
West finally hit the scoreboard to break the ice after using a combination of run-pass to move the football steadily down the field after the Cyclone score.
Malakhi Isom pounded the football in from five yards out and the PAT was good by Ezekiel Alvarado to make it 13-7 with 2:45 left in the third quarter.
Elizabethton wasn’t done in the period, however, after a long Slagle to Luke Whaley pass set the Cyclones up in great field positon. After getting close to the goal line and failing to get the ball into the end zone utilizing the heavy package with Griffin, a couple of personal foul penalties against West gave the Cyclones a first down at the goal line.
Slagle called his own number and rolled into the end zone. On the play, the Trojan defender seemed to ignore the referee’s whistle and slammed Slagle to the turf which set off a brief melee on the Cyclone sidelines.
Once order was restored and penalties were given to the teams for their part in the scuffle, Bowers blasted the PAT and the scoreboard read 20-7 with 31 ticks to play in the quarter.
The third period ended with a 20-7 score.
With 9:18 left to play in the game, both teams were sent to the locker rooms due to a weather delay with lightning being spotted near the stadium. A pretty good storm blew over the field, which forced the officials to call the game, giving the Cyclones the 20-7 victory.
Slagle finished the night 11-of-23 for 175 yards and a scoring pass. He added six carries for five yards and the rushing score. Whaley was on the receiving end of many of Slagle’s tosses as he recorded six catches for 105 yards.
Kaleb Holzer led in the ground game accumulating 48 yards on nine carries.
The win moved the Cyclones to 2-0 on the season.
Scuffle maker
The game started to show some signs of leading up to a melee early on as there were a lot of things being overlooked by the officiating crew that made tensions start to rise.
One particular play that stood out was when Cyclone running back J-Train Wallin went down on a tackle and the Trojan tackler twisted his leg in a precarious manner after the play was done forcing Wallin out of the game for the rest of the evening.
Pushing and shoving occurred on numerous plays before the hit on Slagle was the final fuse that created the unfortunate play on the sidelines. That may have been the final straw for the officiating crew when it came time to call the game knowing that emotions were reaching a crescendo.
Coach Witten’s take on the game
“I think a lot of it was Morristown West in the first half. They tried to make a play on that first drive and Rhett (Slagle) made that throw across his body going toward his left, which he knows better than to do, and the free safety made a good read. They were well-prepared, big, and a good football team. They raised their level and were challenged because they knew they had a championship football team coming in and wanted to play with an edge and make a name for themselves early if they could have beaten us for some recognition.
“We were going to open it up and throw the football a little bit and try to get some passing yards. They had a good defensive game plan but give Rhett a lot of kudos for coming back and playing well to put us in position to score. He is still a young quarterback but made some big plays. He played physical and ran the ball well.
“We have played 6-A and 5-A schools back-to-back which are two big games. Where we lost last year, we have won this year. I really like where we are as a team.”
Upcoming game
The Cyclones will be on the road for a third consecutive week when they travel to Rutledge to take on conference foe Grainger County. The Grizzlies enter the contest at 1-1 on the year with a 20-12 win over Claiborne Co. and a tough 27-22 defeat on the road at Chuckey Doak in week two.
Game time will be 7:30 pm for the Region 1 4-A conference kickoff for both schools.
The Stats
Elizabethton, 20-7
ELIZABETHTON                  0          7          13        0     —     20
MORRISTOWN WEST        0          0             7        0    —        7
First Quarter
Second Quarter
E — Blevins 24 pass from Slagle (Bowers kick), 2:24
Third Quarter
E — Griffin 3 run (kick failed), 11:30
MW — Isom 5 run (Alvarado kick), 2:45
E — Slagle 4 run (Bowers kick), :31.3
Game Statistics
                           E                      MW
FIRST DOWNS                13                        9
PASSING (C-A-I)      11-23-2             9-14-0
PASSING YARDS           175                     84
RUSHES-YARDS         25-70             19-104
TOTAL YARDS                 245                   188
FUMBLES-LOST            1-0                   1-1
PUNTS-AVG.                 2-41.5              5-34.2
PENALTIES-YARDS      9-65               16-151
Individual Statistics
PASSING—EHS: Slagle 11-23-2 175 yds TD; MW: Isom 9-14-0 84 yds.
RUSHING— EHS: Holzer 9-48, Mullins 6-5, Slagle 6-5 TD, Griffin 2-10, Wallen 2-2; MW: Richards 5-42, Isom 4-11 TD, Miller 4-10, Frias 3-20, Howard 2-18, Rosen 1-3.
RECEIVING— EHS: Whaley 6-105, Blevins 2-31 TD, Mullins 2-28, Griffin 1-11; MW: Gudger 3-19, Frias 3-5, McCullough 2-55, Richards 1-5.SACKS — MW: Howard.

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