By Tim Chambers
A talented group of 7-8-year-old players from Elizabethton and Johnson County put on a show on Saturday in the stadium where current Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Jason Witten played his high school football.
The young Cyclones were hoping to knock off the undefeated Longhorns in Grasscutters play but came up just a little short. Johnson County rode the strong running of Kyle Maple to a hard fought 20-19 victory inside of Brown-Childress Stadium.
The game was a classic from start to finish with the Cyclones in front for most of the first half.
The Cyclones had the football twice inside the 10-yard line but the Longhorns’ defense would stiffen and not allow them in the end zone.
Colton Grindstaff had a big stop on their first drive that stalled their drive at the 12 as did Carter Atwood. Maple and Eli Tester had key tackles on their second drive which fizzled out at the seven.
The Cyclones took an early lead on a 27-yard touchdown run by Janson West. They controlled the football for most of the first half but they had no answer for Maple.
Brycen Blevins had given the Cyclones a 13-0 lead with an 11-yard quarterback keeper to the end zone but it would stick. Maple reeled off touchdown runs of 38 and 15 yards to tie the game at 13-13 on Bryson Kimble’s extra point in the fourth quarter.
The Cyclones wasted no time jumping back on top, getting a 58-yard kickoff return from Sully Perkins to go up 19-13 after the failed PAT.
Maple’s touchdown run of 23 yards and his successful conversion inside the final minute would give the Longhorns a dramatic come from behind victory.
Maples ended the game with 143 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Carter Atwood and Hunter Paisley had runs for 12 and 11 yards.
Colton Grindstaff led the Longhorn defense with eight tackles. Maples added five; Tester collected four while Atwood and Sawyer Marshall managed three apiece. Rylee Henson and Bryson Kimble were in on two stops. Hunter McElyea and Brandon Dickens added one apiece.
Maples had a pair of sacks. Tester and Grindstaff managed one each.
Perkins had 41 yards rushing to lead the Cyclones. West added 24 and Blevins collected 13.
Evan Chambers led the Cyclones’ defense with six tackles. Hunter Hopson provided five stops in addition to running in their lone extra point. Blevins, Perkins and Nolan Loveday provided three tackles each. Brandon Orellana was in on two.