KINGSPORT — As the time melted off the clock and Sullivan North’s football team steadily bulldozed its way down Benny Compton Field on Friday night, it appeared that “Wide Left” was going to be Elizabethton’s epitaph.
Logan Birchfield missed a short field goal with 9: 49 remaining in the game that could have put the Cyclones ahead by two scores. He then returned to the sidelines and watched helplessly as North took full advantage.
The Golden Raiders scored a touchdown with 3:54 remaining and tacked on a 2-point conversion to take their first lead of the night.
But an 80-yard kickoff return by Ethan Thomas gave Birchfield a shot at redemption. It was an opportunity the sophomore did not squander.
“The miss is still in my head, but it’s always about the next kick,” Birchfield said. “So I have to think about the next one. As soon as it got off my foot, I knew it was going through.”
Birchfield nailed a 24-yard field goal with 1:29 remaining in the game to put Elizabethton up 23-21. The Cyclone defense made it stand up, stopping North on downs to give Elizabethton the inside track to the Three Rivers Conference championship.
For the Cyclones, Friday’s victory offered a measure of revenge after North beat them at Dave Ryder Field last year.
“You can’t say enough about how our kids responded from a year ago,” Elizabethton coach Shawn Witten said. “They took the conference championship away from us last year and our kids just wanted it.”
The first two times the Cyclones touched the ball, they went 80 yards for a touchdown to build a 14-0 lead they managed to nurse into halftime.
Terrence Turner scored Elizabethton’s first TD from 9 yards out before Thomas pounded his way into the end zone from 3 yards out early in the second quarter. Turner added a 20-yard TD run in the third and finished with 98 rushing yards. Thomas racked up 156 rushing yards.
South Greene 7
GREENEVILLE — The Greene Devils dominated from the outset for the Blue Ridge Conference win over the Rebels.
Quan Wilson returned the opening kickoff 85 yards to the endzone and later rushed for two more on runs of 15 and 10 yards. After Wilson’s opening TD run, South Greene was forced to punt on its first possession and Hayes Culbreth ran it back 54 yards to put the Greene Devil up 14-0 before two minutes had run off the clock.
Greeneville rushed 27 times for 351 yards and eight touchdowns, led by Desmond Dabbs with 141 yards on five carries two fourth-quarter scores. The Devils finished with 437 total yards. Stewart complete 4-of-6 passes for 69 yards.
ELIZABETHTON — Taylor Whitehead rushed for 204 yards and five touchdowns as the Highlanders crushed the Rangers for a Mountain East victory.
Whitehead also intercepted two passes.
Johnson County 42
Sullivan East 12
MOUNTAIN CITY — Patrick South carried the Longhorns to the Three Rivers Conference win.
The junior running back ran in three touchdowns, running the ball 28 times for 155 of Johnson County’s 279 total yards.
Warren Kerley was 4-for-4 passing for 66 yards for the Longhorns.
Tri-Cities Christian 39
Mount Juliet 21
Evan Blankenship rushed for 245 yards and three touchdowns to carry the Eagles to the win.
Blankenship ran 18 times, scoring on runs of 57, 53 and 12 yards. Justin Sykes ran in two touchdowns, and Dakota McGhee threw an 8-yard touchdown pass for Jacque Jones.
For Mount Juliet, Rick Van Molly connected with Brent Lamberth for a pair of touchdown passes and ran in another.