Elizabethton left no doubt on Friday night.
The defending state champion Cyclones scored early and often to pull away to a 56-21 victory over Nolensville in the Class 4A Semifinals and punch a ticket to next Saturday’s BlueCross Bowl Championships in Cookeville.
Elizabethton, who won their 29th consecutive game on Friday night, will take on Haywood on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 11 am CT with the state title on the line.
In Nolensville Friday night, the Cyclones got going early.
On 4th-and-3, Bryson Rollins found Parker Hughes for a nine-yard touchdown to put EHS on the board first. Sean Smithdeal added the extra point to give Elizabethton a 7-0 lead midway through the first.
After the EHS defense forced a punt on the ensuing drive, Rollins capped off an efficient drive with a four-yard touchdown run to send Elizabethton into the second quarter with a 14-0 advantage.
Cade Russell and the EHS defense came up big early in the second quarter as Russell intercepted a Nolensville pass at the Elizabethton 1.
That set-up an 85-yard touchdown run from Parker Hughes as the Cyclones held a 21-0 lead with 6:42 left in the half.
Nolensville was able to piece together a drive on their next possession and got on the board when Ryder Galardi hit Parker Price for a 26-yard touchdown.
Elizabethton, however, answered in a hurry as Jake Roberts caught a Rollins pass over the middle and scored on the play that covered 65 yards for the touchdown.
Smithdeal’s extra point pushed the EHS advantage to 28-7 at the half.
It was much the same in the second half.
After Nolensville scored on the opening possession of the third quarter, the Cyclones got things cranked back up. Rollins capped a three-minute drive with a two-yard touchdown, and the EHS defense forced a punt on the next Nolensville drive.
Elizabethton led 35-14 at the end of the third quarter.
On the first play of the final quarter, Hughes broke free for a 12-yard touchdown run to extend the EHS lead.
The Cyclone defense was sparked by a pair of key plays from Grayson Hatfield and Caleb Johnson to force another Knight punt.
Nate Stephens and the Cyclone offense answered in a big way as Stephens took a handoff and raced 45 yards for the touchdown.
After the Knights got back on the board, Stephens capped the scoring with a 26-yard touchdown.
Rollins finished the night 9-of-10 passing for 153 yards. Hughes had himself a night as he finished with 191 yards on 13 carries along with 29 yards on three catches.
Stephens finished with 70 yards on seven carries. Roberts tallied five catches for 117 yards.
As a team, Elizabethton ended the night with 478 offensive yards.
Photos courtesy of Matt Masters/Williamson Home Page.