Cyclones skin Grizzlies in 65-14 blitzing
Published 10:23 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023
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RUTLEDGE – Seven attempts and seven failures – that’s how many times the Grainger Co. Grizzlies have attempted to take down the Elizabethton Cyclones in their meetings on the gridiron, as the seventh attempt was not even close on Friday night in Rutledge.
Elizabethton proved its dominance as the Cyclones rolled off 49 first-half points on their way to a 65-14 road victory. The Cyclones remain unbeaten at 3-0 on the season, while Grainger Co. dropped to 1-2.
The Cyclones got rolling early in the first quarter behind a pair of scoring runs by senior running back Kaleb Holzer who scored on runs of four and one yard to quickly surge the Cyclones to the front.
A Landry Buckles pick-six extended the lead when the sophomore took a wounded duck out of the air and raced untouched to the end zone. Zeth Mullins tacked on a five-yard scoring run with 1:05 left in the first quarter to make it a 28-0 game after placekicker Will Bowers was kicking the ball through the uprights just as fast as the Cyclone offense was scoring.
In the second quarter, Jeriah Griffin ran the wildcat formation and the Grizzlies took a paw to the face as Griffin scampered in from one yard out to make it 35-0 with just over six minutes left in the first half.
The Grizzlies finally managed to get on the board on the ensuing kickoff as speedster Jace Robinson took the kick and raced 95 yards to pay dirt. Hunter Mallicoat ran in the two-point conversion with the new scoring being 35-8 Cyclones.
Elizabethton quickly responded as Mullins found the end zone for the second time on the night as he punched it in from 13 yards away to make it a 42-8 game on Bowers PAT.
Even more impressive was the two-minute drill which was perfectly executed by the Cyclones resulting in a quarterback Rhett Slagle to Griffin 25-yard pass with only six seconds left on the clock for the half. Bowers booted his seventh PAT of the game as the Cyclones went to the locker room firmly in command with the 49-8 advantage.
Holzer completed his night by recording his third score of the game on a 45-yard gallop to the end zone with 9:12 showing on the third quarter clock. Bowers once again was true and the game was officially a blowout with the Cyclones leading 56-8.
Cam Baker got in on the scoring action as well in the third when the senior rambled 42 yards down the Cyclone sideline with 1:18 remaining in the third quarter. Logan Dillow booted the point-after and the new score read 63-8.
Multiply substitutions were made in the fourth quarter as the Cyclones recorded another defensive score with a safety as a posse of Cyclones brought down Brandon Church in the end zone for a 65-8 lead.
Grainger Co.’s Ashton Taylor scored the final points of the contest at the 1:48 mark left in the fourth quarter. The run failed and the game had its final scoring margin of 65-25.
In their own words…
Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten
“We just really wanted to keep the momentum and come out to execute well. We got a turnover on defense early on as the defense was swarming. It was good to see us get our run game established early on and get our offensive linemen in rhythm. The big exclamation mark right before halftime was the two-minute drill, taking the ball about 95 yards and scoring.
“We knew they were going to be a running team and our players stepped up to make some plays. We are continuing to grow in some areas and are building for down the road and have some tough games ahead. It was really good to see our guys execute at a high level.”
Senior offensive lineman Josh Hayes
“It’s just a comrade because we are all friends and hang out every day which I don’t believe that we have really had that in the last couple of years and we are really just tight knit. We have a group that only has two returning starters. So, for some of these guys, it’s their first meaningful varsity reps. The more we dominate, the more we can continue to do what we are doing because it builds confidence. It’s great to see that.”
Senior defensive lineman Andrew Blevins
“The way that we ended last season really put a brand on us. We are going to play that brand of football where we want to win and want to give that max effort and leave it all out on the field. It’s really for the community. I have played my entire life, so I have had the same mentality of always going out there and leaving it all on the field. It really goes back to the coaching – they teach us what we need to do and we go out there and execute. We have put in the work and it’s paying off. I just want to make sure to stay level-headed and keep my composure when the adversity comes.”