Elizabethton has a date in Cookeville next Saturday.
The Cyclones secured a berth in the TSSAA Class 4A State Championship game with a 34-12 victory over Nolensville at Citizens Bank Stadium on Friday night.
Elizabethton is set to take on Springfield – who dispatched Haywood in the other Class 4A semifinal – at 4pm ET/3PM CT at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.
In the early going, the Elizabethton defense stole the show.
After EHS was forced to punt on the game’s opening drive, Cade Russell intercepted a Knights pass to set Elizabethton up at midfield. However, the Cyclones were unable to get anything going after a holding call on third down stalled things out.
Zach Hartley, however, provided another spark for the Elizabethton squad as he nabbed an interception on the ensuing drive. Bryson Rollins hit Parker Hughes on the next drive for a seven-touchdown to get the Cyclones on the board first.
Jaxton Holly kicked the extra point to make it a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Another strong defensive series gave EHS field position at the Knight 40, and Elizabethton took full advantage.
Cade Maupin and Rollins had some strong runs to get things started. After a big gain on a Hughes-Rollins connection, Rollins scored on a short run to push the lead to 14-0.
Nolensville, however, wasn’t going down without a fight.
The ground game got things moving as Ryan Pistulka scored on a four-yard to get the Knights on the board. The extra point was unsuccessful as Elizabethton maintained a 14-6 lead with just under four minutes to play in the half.
After a quick three-and-out, the Knights got back on the board in the closing seconds on the half as Parker Price caught a Ryder Galardi pass for the score. The two-point conversion was no good as Elizabethton took a 14-12 lead into the locker room at the half.
In the second half, the Cyclones left no doubt.
A quick three-and-out for Nolensville set EHS up inside the Nolensville 40, and Maupin went to work. The drive ended as Maupin scored on a six-yard scamper – his fifth consecutive play running the ball – as the Holly extra point gave Elizabethton a 20-12 lead going to the fourth quarter.
The teams traded possessions before Hughes caught his second touchdown of the night off a Rollins pass that covered 24 yards for the touchdown. That drive was extended as the offensive line pushed the way for the Cyclones to convert a fourth-and-one.
After the EHS defense snuffed out a fourth-and-one, Rollins and Hughes connected again for a 20-yard touchdown with 3:44 remaining to set off the celebration.
For the game, Rollins finished 6-of-8 passing for 93 yards, while he added 36 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Maupin had 19 carries for 88 yards, while Hughes had five catches for 78 yards receiving.
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