ELIZABETHTON — There were a few reasons for Elizabethton not to take David Crockett seriously.
However, the Cyclones apparently didn’t buy into any of them as they rolled to a 52-0 victory Friday night at Rider Field for their third shutout in four games this season.
“As a coach you preach and hope it sinks in,” said Cyclones’ head coach Shawn Witten, whose teams are 7-0 in Homecoming games. “These kids read the paper. They see the articles. They see the scores and see what has happened. But this is a special bunch.”
Crockett was coming off a 90-21 loss to Science Hill and was without the services of standout freshman TK Hill because of injury.
However, senior defensive end Adam Mullins said the Cyclones’ players don’t take opponents for granted.
“We’re going to take every game like it’s against the best team in Tennessee,” said Mullins. “We have to come out and hit them square in the mouth, just like we’re playing a Super Bowl champion.”
Elizabethton improved to 3-1 on the season while Crockett fell to 2-2.
The Pioneers actually had a positive defensive series on the Cyclones’ first possession. They forced Elizabethton into a fourth-and-three situation at the Cyclones’ 42-yard line.
However, Witten didn’t blink and instructed his team to go for it. Christian Glover took the handoff and burst through the line of scrimmage. Fifty-eight yards later, Glover reached the end zone.
“We wanted to set a mentality,” said Witten. “We knew we had to jump on them early. We wanted to create as much momentum as we could.
“It was like Christian was shot out of a cannon. He was explosive on that play.”
After a Crockett punt, Ethan Thomas broke loose for a 69-yard run to Crockett’s 16-yard line. Two plays later, Thomas danced into the end zone to make it 14-0.
On the next possession, Elizabethton took five plays to cover 67 yards with Caleb Bailey’s quarterback sneak making it 21-0.
Still in the first quarter, Markus Olds picked off Ryan Burger’s pass and raced 69 yards for a touchdown.
“(Olds) is an impact player,” said Witten. “He works hard, and he’s a great kid.”
It didn’t get much better for Crockett. The first-half possessions were punt, punt, pick, punt, fumble lost, punt and punt before the final one ended at the Cyclones’ 22 as time expired.
At halftime it was 49-0 as Caleb Armstrong (34 run), Jeremiah Turner (12 run) and Caleb Jones (11 run) had added touchdowns for the Cyclones.
For the game, Elizabethton rushed for 400 yards on 37 carries. Thomas finished with 152 yards on 10 attempts while Glover recorded 111 on just six carries.
On the other side of the ball, Crockett managed just 48 yards rushing on 30 attempts as the Cyclones’ defense continued to step up on game nights.
Crockett did get some things going in the passing game, but couldn’t sustain a drive into the end zone. Burger completed 17 of 30 passes for 136 yards. Luke Hopson had six catches for 70 yards.
“We did a good job of stopping their receivers and not giving up big plays,” said Witten.
The Cyclones are off next week, and then travel Sept. 27 to take on Tennessee High.
It doesn’t get much better for the Pioneers, who will be at home next week to take on a likely agitated Dobyns-Bennett team that blew a late lead Friday night at home in a loss to Sevier County.