By Matt Hill
The JCHS Football Team was in the game for awhile, but it was too much McKenly Berry and not enough offense for the Longhorns.
The Horns were only down 16-7 at the half, but a second half Cyclone fury led to a 44-15 win for the Cyclones at Dave Rider Field Friday night.
The loss makes the Longhorns 2-2 in the league and 2-6 overall and pretty much ends any playoff hopes. The Cyclones are still undefeated in conference play and wrap up their second straight Three Rivers Conference title.
The Longhorns were totally outplayed throughout, but hung in there in the first half and with 3:48 to go in the second quarter, Mark Jennings scored on a one-yard run to cut the Cyclone lead to 13-7.
JCHS had new life on that possession when a couple of penalties on the kickoff gave JCHS the ball at the Cyclone 40.
The Longhorns made the short trip to the end zone, but it was one of the few breaks that went their way.
Right before halftime, Elizabethtons Christine Hardin kicked a 34-yard field goal that just barely clipped the uprights.
The score was 16-7 at the break and a sign of things to come for JCHS.
I felt like we played well in the first half, JCHS head coach Mike Atwood said. Going into halftime 16-7, we felt pretty good and in the third quarter we had a good drive going at the Elizabethton 20 and then we had a fumble and that put us back at second and 16. Our offense cant recover from mistakes like that. I felt like with five minutes to go in the third quarter when we had the ball on the 20 at 16-7 we had a chance. With the kind of team we have we just cant afford to do that.
The Cyclones went on to score four touchdowns in less than 13 minutes and took over the football game.
After the drive to the 20, the Longhorn offense was struggling to move the ball both running and throwing.
A run game that had been unstoppable all year was held 102 yards and the passing game struggled again, completing just one pass in 14 attempts.
Meanwhile, the Cyclones Berry went 12-of-19 for 210 yards while the balanced Cyclone rushing attack ran for 224 yards on 34 carries.
The passing game has been weakness for us all year and thats been one of their strengths, Atwood said. I feel if we had played them early we would have had a chance, but theyre really getting their timing down and theyve gotten a lot better. They were hard for us to stop because were not very good on the outside on the run or the pass. When a team has a bunch of good athletes like they do thats what happens. They finally got us late in the third and in the fourth quarter.
Teams are really keying now on Humphrey and Mark Jennings, forcing the Longhorns to have to throw more.
This is the first time where we barely got over 100 yards rushing and I think the lack of a passing game has made it harder to run, Atwood said.
An 83 yard kickoff return that was sliced because of holding led to a four-yard run by Jennings that led to the final score of 37-15 following a two-point conversion by Kyle Miller.
The Longhorns have Grace Christian next and though the team doesnt have a playoff berth to play for, it is playing for a lot of pride.
They still have a lot to play for, Atwood said. Nobody wants to end their senior season with a bad record. They have a lot to play for and their good kids. The pressure is off of them now so they can go out and play and not worry about making mistakes.
STATS FOR JCHS
RUSHING: Humphrey 13-52, Jennings 16-43, Steele 5 (-6), Miller 1-8, Kleine 1-(-3), Bellamy 1-8.
PASSING: Steele 1-14-0
RECEIVING: Humphrey 1-11
DEFENSE: Humphrey 6, Stollings 4, Miller 6, Gibson 1, Arnold 9, Baxter 4, Jacobs 2, Reece 4, Jennings 2, Herman 1, Lester 1, Mahala 1, R. Roark 1.