Elizabethton’s offensive line has been improving, and running back Terrence Turner is reaping the benefits.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound junior carried the ball 34 times and gained a career-high 243 yards Friday night in a 14-7 win over Boone (N.C.) Watauga.
Getting big numbers in a blowout is one thing, but going over 200 yards in a one-score game is quite an accomplishment. The Cyclones were forced to stay ground-oriented because of high winds that made passing very difficult.
“When we went into the wind, we couldn’t throw, punt or kick anything in that direction,” said Cyclones head coach Shawn Witten. “It was extreme conditions and a misty rain, too. When we kicked off with the wind, it went 20 yards out of the end zone. It was ridiculous.
“We had to change things and go to a power set. And we just put the ball in (Turner’s) hands.”
There was evidence Turner could handle such a burden from the previous two games. Against Sullivan North, he gained 206 yards on 18 carries.
He followed that up with 156 yards on 25 carries against Sullivan South.
Turner’s effort against Watauga gave him 1,025 rushing yards for the season to go with nine touchdowns. He is averaging a sparkling 8.1 yards per carry.
Part of the reason Turner has been so successful is the interior line play of the Cyclones. Leading the way are center Dillon Andes and guards Derek Nunley and Justin Williams.
“Dillon has been consistent at the center position, and those three guys are the foundation for our offense,” said Witten. “Matt (Smith) and some of the other guys play defense, too, but those three just play offensive line. Having them in the middle has helped the running game.”
Of course, Turner is a big part of it, too.
“He has a way of just finding a crease,” said Witten. “He’s a special running back and doesn’t take direct blows.”
With the game still in doubt in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones went to the grinder and protected the lead.
“It was exciting the way we won the game up front, and the way we finished in a controlled manner,” said Witten. “We were four for four on fourth down in the game, and that was a huge key for the offense.”
Quarterback McKenly Berry, who entered the game averaging 144 yards passing, was accurate despite the conditions. He completed 8 of 12 passes for 57 yards and a scoring strike to Chad Pritchard.
Of course in a 14-7 game, the defensive had to stand out as well. Leading the way on that side of the ball were lineman Dustin Phillips and Smith.
Also, linebacker Stephen Holsclaw had a sack while linebacker Thomas Miller continued his standout play. Kaleb Walters also made an impact at linebacker, said Witten.
Overall, the win was very important for the Cyclones, who were coming off back-to-back difficult losses.
“It was big for us, just getting back in the win column,” said Witten. “We played well in all three phases, and the kids played extremely hard. We learned a lot from the South game, and the kids have made tremendous strides.”
Next up for the Cyclones is a home game against Unicoi County on Friday.
Correction: Phillip Waters had the recordbreaking run in Hampton’s 39-12 win over North Greene on Friday night.
Waters raced 95 yards for a touchdown, breaking Tim Chambers’ school mark that was set in 1976. Chambers, who these days is a sports writer for the Elizabethton Star, went 91 yards for a touchdown against Sullivan West.