Sometimes Mr. Football candidates don’t look the part. Stanton Martin had no trouble with it.
The Anderson County junior quarterback, a semifinalist for the statewide honor, cut Elizabethton’s defense to shreds and ended the Cyclones’ season Friday night in a 38-21 victory in the second round of the TSSAA Class 4A playoffs.
Martin completed 27 of 34 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 109 yards and a score. That’s a staggering 475 yards of total offense, the likes of which the Cyclones haven’t seen in quite some time — if ever.
“He’s just a great player,” said Cyclones’ head coach Shawn Witten. “He’s very versatile. It’s hard to stop a guy who is a dual-threat kid and can run around and make plays. He does a good job of spreading the ball around. It seemed like they were just playing faster than we were tonight.”
Improving to 12-0 on the season, the Mavericks earned a quarterfinal berth at No. 1-ranked Greeneville in what will be a battle of undefeated teams and the top two ranked teams in the state.
Elizabethton saw its season end at 9-3.
“We’ve got some great seniors, and some guys who performed really well throughout the season,” said Witten. “It was a tough way to lose, but we were fortunate enough to get here. Credit our seniors for getting us to this point.”
The turning point
After falling behind 14-0 and seemingly staggered by the countless body blows from Anderson’s offense, the Cyclones got back in the game when Corey Russell forced his way into the end zone from two yards out in the second quarter.
The Cyclones then stopped the Mavericks, and got the ball back with time running down before halftime. Faced with fourth and two at the Anderson County 40 — and with the Mavericks out of timeouts and the clock running — the Cyclones went with a quick snap, which was fumbled. The eight-yard loss left 48 seconds on the clock, the Mavericks had plenty of time for a scoring opportunity — with the comfort of knowing they would get the second-half kickoff.
The Mavericks drove inside the Cyclones’ 10-yard line before settling for Clayton Utley’s 33-yard field goal.
Martin scored on a seven-yard run on the first possession of the second half, and the 17-point margin was something the Cyclones couldn’t remove.
“We thought we had enough time to go down and get a field goal at least,” said Witten. “We thought we had changed the momentum. In a game like this you can’t get down two scores.”
Helping Martin have his big night was receiver Dalton Wilson, who finished with 10 catches for 183 yards and two scores. On the ground, Mason Phillips had 19 carries for 83 yards.
For Elizabethton, Russell had 23 carries for 74 and three scores. He added 105 yards on five kickoff returns and 12 receiving yards to finish with 191 all-purpose yards.
Carter Everett was 19 of 37 for 182 yards while receiver Ryan Wetzel grabbed eight balls for 111 yards.