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Unbeaten Cyclones storm their way into second round

Johnny Wilson • Nov 8, 2019 at 11:49 PM

ELIZABETHTON—It's difficult to improve upon perfection, but the unbeaten Elizabethton football team continued working at it Friday night as the 2019 campaign rolled on into November's postseason.

The homestanding Cyclones turned in a workman-like effort to open the Class 4A playoffs at Citizens Bank Stadium, outclassing East Ridge 44-8.

"There's a lot of pressure on us, being the No.1 seed and being 11-0 now," said longtime Elizabethton coach Shawn Witten. "But we like where we're at.

"We continue to build confidence and the guys are listening to the coaches and are putting in the work. It's exciting to see it pay off like this on Friday nights."

Elizabethton's latest victory was methodical and certain.

The Cyclones produced three-play scoring drives of 79 and 46 yards over the first seven minutes of the game to establish a quick 13-0 advantage.

Elizabethton led 23-0 at halftime and 37-8 after three periods.

"It was great to come out and set the tone and execute our plays those first two drives like that," said Witten. "We scored on every drive in the first half except one. It was good to see us take advantage of our early opportunities."

MAUPIN, ROLLINS STAR

Elizabethton's attack was led by running back Cade Maupin and sophomore quarterback Bryson Rollins, a semifinalist for Class 4A player of the year.

A transfer from Dobyns-Bennett, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Maupin scored on runs of 7 and 23 yards while gaining 115 yards on just 14 attempts. The senior had carries of 25 and 47 yards on the first two plays of the game.

"The line came out and blew them off the ball from the start," Maupin said. "That was our game plan — to run it down their throat — and we got right to it."

Meanwhile, the 6-1, 185-pound Rollins scored on runs of 1, 3 and 3 yards, gaining 76 yards on nine tries, while completing 11 of 14 passes for 142 yards.

"He's a beast," Maupin allowed.

No argument from Witten.

"Our offense is built around Bryson's ability to make plays with his feet," Witten said. "He turned 16 two days ago, which is amazing, considering his poise."

Rollins, who completed his first eight passes, found Zach Hartley four times for 76 yards, while fellow wideout Braden Holly caught three balls for 35 yards.

OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS

Jaxton Holly kicked a 27-yard field goal for Elizabethton to end the first half.

Teammate Nate Stephens concluded the scoring with a 3-yard run to the end zone with 11:37 remaining in the game, enacting a continuous clock.

East Ridge avoided a shutout on the heels of elusive senior running back Keanu Johnson, who broke a 49-yard scoring run midway through the third quarter and finished with 159 yards rushing on 24 carries.

Elizabethton produced 350 total offensive yards to 278 for the Pioneers, who finished their season with a 5-6 mark.

UP NEXT

Elizabethton hosts Sullivan South, a first-round upset winner over East Hamilton, next Friday in the second round of the playoffs.

It was just a couple weeks ago that South nearly upset the Cyclones as well, falling 14-13 after a blocked extra-point kick.

"South's a huge football team and you can't take anybody for granted at this point," Witten said. "We'll see what we can come up with to improve on our last game against them and see if we can't put ourselves in position to win again."

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