ELIZABETHTON — Even Mother Nature had a hard time slowing down the Elizabethton football machine on Friday night at Citizens Bank Stadium.
After the start of the game was delayed an hour because of lightning, the Cyclones took the field and blew away visiting Rhea County 41-21.
“It’s hard to describe how big a win this is for us,” said Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten. “It’s a statement win for us. We’re 6-1 now and we’ve come a long way and are headed in the right direction.”
Bryson Rollins was his usual dominating self, rushing for four touchdowns and passing for another in the Cyclones’ impressive victory.
Elizabethton took the opening kickoff and marched 69 yards on four running plays, all by Rollins. He bullied his way into the end zone over the final four yards and gave the Cyclones a lead they would never relinquish.
Cade Russell made it a 13-0 Elizabethton advantage in the first quarter after he darted 30 yards for a touchdown. Rollins gave the Cyclones a 20-0 lead with a 3-yard scoring jaunt with 9:13 left in the half.
Golden Eagles quarterback Caleb Martin burst out of a pack of tacklers and dashed 32 yards for a TD, narrowing the deficit to 20-7.
But the Cyclones put together a nifty drive that produced Rollins’ third score of the first half and upped the ante to 27-7 going into halftime.
Rhea County (5-2) took the second half kickoff and drove 87 yards in 19 plays with Ethan Davis scoring from two yards out. The drive consumed 10:30 of the clock and cut Elizabethton’s lead to 27-14.
The Golden Eagles would score again, but the Cyclones added a 43-yard TD pass from Rollins to Jake Roberts and another Rollins touchdown run for the final scoring margin.
“Our offensive linemen did another great job tonight,” said Russell. “With the holes they open, they make things easy for Bryson and me.”
Rollins finished with 147 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Davis led the Golden Eagles with 149 yards on 25 rushes.
On the night, the Elizabethton defense bent, but did not break.
“We knew it was going to be a physical battle,” said Cyclones’ defensive end Caleb Johnson. “But it was our night to represent. We played with a lot of energy and rallied to the ball.”