Elizabethton holds off Greeneville to advance in thrilling fashion



The Citizens Bank Stadium PA system played the perfect foreshadow on Friday night. With Greeneville facing a fourth-and-10 with just over three minutes to play, the PA was blaring Bonnie Tyler’s song “I Need A Hero”.

Parker Hughes and company delivered on the request for Cyclone Nation.

Hughes intercepted a Greeneville pass and then recorded a first down on the ensuing drive to send the Cyclones into the Class 4A state semifinals with a 24-20 victory over the Greene Devils on Friday night.

With their 28th consecutive victory, Elizabethton advances to the Class 4A State Semifinals where they will take on Nolensville for the second straight season with a berth in the state championship game on the line.

On Friday night, it was a defensive struggle for most of the first half.

Both teams recorded three-and-outs on their first two possessions of the game before Elizabethton broke the trend.

Bryson Rollins hit Braden Holly for a 35-yard pass to move inside the Greeneville 10, and Rollins finished off the drive with a two-yard touchdown.

Sean Smithdeal added the extra point as EHS took a 7-0 lead with just under three minutes to play in the first quarter.

The teams traded three-and-outs to end the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Cade Russell stopped a Greeneville drive with an interception, but the EHS offense was unable to take advantage of the field position.

The Greene Devils ended a strong Elizabethton drive with an interception just outside the goal line and then evened the score as Mason Gudger raced 98 yards on the next offensive play for the Greeneville score with just under four minutes to play in the first half.

Elizabethton, however, moves efficiently down the field and added a 32-yard Sean Smithdeal interception as time expired to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room at the half.

The offenses started clicking in the second half.

Greeneville moved the ball on a lengthy opening drive, but the Elizabethton defense rose to the occasion and forced the Greene Devils off the field on fourth down at the EHS 16. The Cyclones, however, saw a turnover end the next drive at midfield, and Greeneville took advantage on the next offensive play as Brady Quillen found Jaden Stevenson for a 53-yard touchdown pass.

After a pair of offside penalties, the extra point was unsuccessful as GHS held a 13-10 advantage.

Elizabethton answered on the next drive with a bruising drive that was capped off when Russell scored on a short touchdown as EHS regained the lead.

Greeneville, however, battled back once again as Gudger escaped around the edge and raced 75 yards for the touchdown as the Greene Devils regained a 20-17 with 1:28 left in the third quarter and carried the advantage into the fourth.

The Cyclones answered on the next drive.

With key runs from Parker Hughes and Rollins, Elizabethton moved the ball effectively on the ground with a key 34-yard pass to Roberts on third down. The drive ended when Rollins scored on a seven-yard run took a 24-20 advantage with 8:33 left.

Greeneville took over on their own 11 on the ensuing possession and moved to midfield before Hughes’ interception sealed the deal for the Cyclones.

Russell finished with 77 yards on 16 carries, while Hughes had 11 carries for 50 yards. Rollins ended the night 6-of-14 passing for 106 yards and 24 rushing yards.

Roberts tallied two catches for 45 yards, while Holly had two catches for 40 yards.

Gudger led Greeneville as he finished with 200 yards on 12 carries while adding 43 passing yards on three catches. Quillen was 8-of-17 passing for 141 yards.

For more photos, click here.

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