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Cyclones prove too much for Johnson County Longhorns

The Johnson County Longhorns hit a big stumbling block in Elizabethton last week going out against the Cyclones on their home turf. Within the first few minutes of the game, Longhorn fans realized the team had its hands full. Johnson County’s defense could do little to keep the Elizabethton at bay and despite several early stops by players like Daniel Lester; the Cyclones were soon looking at their first touchdown for the quarter.
Anticipating the Longhorns ground game, Elizabethton made sure that Johnson County’s offense had to work overtime as well. Resorting to long passes, quarterback Warren Kerley’s success was hit and miss with several passes failing to meet the receiver while a select few were right on target. Despite more than one strong push, the Longhorns were simply unable to gain the ground they desperately needed and were forced to punt without even making it to the 20-yard line.
“They jumped on us early,” said Coach Mike Atwood after the game. “We knew if they got on us like that we were going to have a hard time coming back against a team like them. When they got up like that it pretty much decided the game unfortunately. There in the first quarter we just didn’t execute anything. They’re a good football team. They really played well tonight.”
Taking back control of the ball, it wasn’t long before Elizabethton was back within reach of the end zone. Johnson County’s defense simply could not lock down the Cyclones speed, allowing them to put up the second touchdown of the evening with at 0-14 lead. According to Atwood, “I wasn’t very happy with the way we executed in the first half and our defense tackled horrible. We saw on film that their backs break a bunch of tackles and we told our guys, they’re going to have to tackle and you can’t knock you down. It just didn’t work out for us. We didn’t tackle, we didn’t play well enough to win and that’s just the bottom line.”
The Longhorns inability to put their own offensive game into play was as big of a hindrance as the defense. A pass to Chase Klein put Johnson County farther up the field only to be overshadowed by another fourth down, forcing a punt. Almost every time Elizabethton took possession of the ball they were able to make the score, and by the time the first quarter finally wore down, the Longhorns were looking at a 21-point deficit.
The second quarter didn’t get much better; starting off with two back to back incomplete passes, before turning it back over for another Cyclone touchdown. This time Elizabethton failed to make the extra point, but at 0-27 this was little encouragement. Both the offensive and defensive lines continued to have trouble throughout the first half, and with the score climbing steadily higher many of the players began to lose hope of any sort of comeback. “We came out and we just didn’t have any hop,” said Jeffrey Brooks. “It was over before it started. I honestly don’t know what was going on out there. We started slow, kept it slow, but at least we didn’t get shut out.”
The Cyclones managed their last two big advancements toward the end of the second, pushing their score all the way to 34 at the half. Johnson County’s defense did manage to slow Elizabethton down and keep them from scoring again in the second half, but by then the damage had already been done. Offensively, players like Timmy Bellamy had several strong moments where they picked up yardage, but the Longhorns simply could not finish, coming as close as the 20 yard line but then stumbling through a fourth down.
Patrick South finally started to have some luck on the carry in the third quarter but didn’t really shine until the last few minutes of the fourth. Determined not to let the Cyclones shut them out, the offensive line finally pushed their way toward the goal line in the last minutes of the game. Sometimes with four or five guys on top of him, South still managed to gain a few precious yards, putting Luke Poteet in position to make the only Johnson County touchdown of the night with less than a minute in the game. 
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