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’Betsy wrangles runner-up finish

Douglas Fritz • Updated Oct 20, 2017 at 11:41 PM

ELIZABETHTON — One week after a grounded mindset, Elizabethton got air happy and turned in a record-setting performance.

Carter Everett passed for a school-record 431 yards and Ryan Wetzel caught a school-record 16 passes as the Cyclones exploded for a 52-27 win over Sullivan South at Citizens Bank Stadium on Friday night.

“We just executed, and South kept bringing a lot of pressure,” said Cyclones’ head coach Shawn Witten. “Our offensive line did a terrific job of picking up the blitzes. We just tried to get everybody involved. We just kept throwing it and throwing it.”

Elizabethton improved to 4-1 in Region 1-4A and wrapped up home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs, which begin Nov. 3. The Cyclones are 7-2 overall. South fell to 4-2 in league play and 6-3 overall.

Everett started strong and never relented. He completed 32 of 49 passes and connected for five touchdown strikes. Wetzel caught 16 of those for 165 yards while Evan Perkins also had a big game with six catches for 132 yards. Wetzel and Perkins each had two touchdown receptions.

“They mean a lot to me,” said Everett. “We worked a lot during the offseason. They just get open, and do the things Coach Witten tells them to do. And they’re always in the right place.”

Wetzel said all of the catches didn’t wear him out.

“Carter throws it pretty hard,” said Wetzel. “But I think I’m good.”

Perkins said he just feeds off Everett’s performances.

“Carter does a good job at quarterback, and Coach Witten calls good plays.”

And of course the passing attack wouldn’t be as effective without stellar line play.

“I was back there all day,” said Everett. “I could have stood there forever, it felt like. They played great.”

Keelan Hall added four catches for 70 yards and a score, and the Cyclones had eight different receivers catch passes.

First-half strikes

Corey Russell scored from three yards out to give Elizabethton a quick 7-0 advantage.

Sullivan South’s Austin Monds got an interception on Elizabethton’s next possession, but the Cyclones got it back and rolled down the field. On third down, Carter Everett drilled Ryan Wetzel on a slant for a 14-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.

A nice drive was capped off by Ethan Ward’s 2-yard scoring run early in the second quarter, but the Cyclones had a lightning-quick answer. Everett connected with Perkins on a short curl, and Perkins made a nice move on the defender to get to the sideline and he raced 60 yards for the touchdown.

Perkins later joined forces with Everett again, scoring on a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-7.

Other stats of note

Russell carried 10 times for 66 yards to pace the Cyclones on the ground.

For South, Ward passed for 141 yards and rushed for 51 more.

Dylan Nordby and Jaxton Holly combined to go 7 for 7 on extra-point attempts, and Holly booted a 23-yard field goal.

Elizabethton outgained South, 537-338.

Next up

The Cyclones wrap up their regular season with a visit to Sullivan Central.

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