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ELIZABETHTON — Happy Valley had Elizabethton’s full attention. That wasn’t a good thing for the Warriors.
Quarterback McKenly Berry picked the Warriors’ defense apart, completing 14 of 15 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns as the Cyclones stormed Warrior Hill with a 41-0 blitzing Friday night.
It was the Three Rivers Conference season opener for both teams. The Cyclones improved to 2-1 overall while the Warriors fell to 2-1.
Berry completed all eight of his first-half passing attempts as the Cyclones built a 21-0 advantage by halftime.
“The receivers were just open,” said Berry. “The cornerbacks had their backs turned to the receivers and everything just fell into place. I felt a lot better coming in, and I got into a rhythm tonight.”
Happy Valley head coach Larry Shively said Elizabethton’s offense presents a pick-your-poison attack, and Berry is just a very good player.
“He’s as accurate as I’ve seen in 15 years,” said Shively.
Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten said it was good to see his signal-caller have a big night.
“People have been hard on him, and he’s taken a lot of criticism,” said Witten. “He’s under a lot of pressure, and under a microscope. But he worked his butt off all summer, and when we needed McKenly he stepped up.”
It was a lot more than just the McKenly Berry show. Most significantly, the Cyclones’ defense chewed up Happy Valley’s triple-option offense and spit out the bones.
“We can play fast and we can also play disciplined,” said Witten. “You’ve got to give credit to (defensive coordinator) Stan Ogg. I say it every week. He’s an important key to this thing, and the defensive staff does an outstanding job.”
The Cyclones held the Warriors to 3.5 yards per rushing attempt, and came away with four turnovers.
Elizabethton wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, taking the opening kickoff and going nine plays and 59 yards for a 7-0 lead. Chad Pritchard caught a 10-yard pass from Berry for the score.
Happy Valley fumbled on its first possession, and the Cyclones made them pay quickly. Berry tossed a screen pass to Turner, who turned it into a 21-yard score for a 14-0 advantage.
Turner also had a nice evening for the Cyclones. He finished with 84 yards rushing and caught two passes for 45 yards while totaling three touchdowns.
The Warriors got their offense going on their second possession, which turned out to be their only sustained drive of the evening. Things stalled on the 12th play as Zack Ball was wrapped up in the backfield for a loss on fourth and one at the Cyclones’ 23-yard line.
Ball, who entered the game with 280 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, carried five times for 17 yards. Jaylen Simmons managed only 41 yards on 10 carries.
After the teams traded fumbles, the Cyclones went to their bag of tricks. Berry tossed a short pass to Pritchard, who shot-putted the ball to Turner. The hook-and-lateral play netted 26 yards and a touchdown.
“My freshman coach Josh Boatman came up with that,” said Witten. “He’s got a good creative mind.”
Elizabethton scored on its first possession of the second half, a 1-yard run by Turner. The Cyclones added another third-quarter score on Berry’s 10-yard toss to Michael Fowler.
Landon Pearson added the final score on a six-yard run.
Pritchard and Zach Treadway each had three catches for the Cyclones. Nine different receivers had a catch.
Elizabethton outgained the Warriors 415-165.
Witten said the game is always meaningful, especially to the coaches who used to be at Happy Valley.
“We have a number of coaches who have been on the other side,” said Witten. “Coach (Greg) Hyder, Coach (Travis) Hurley, Coach Ogg and Coach (Jordy) Harrison know what it is like.”
The Warriors hurt themselves badly with four fumbles, losing three.
“When you’re a young football team, you can’t shoot yourself in the foot,” said Shively. “We have to execute better than that, and we have.
“(Losing to Elizabethton) happened last year, though the score was closer, and we turned around and won seven of eight. As long as we can learn from defeat, that’s important. But there are a lot of hurt Warriors in (the locker room) right now.”