The Watuaga High football team ran into a well-oiled machine Friday night. Like a brand new Ferrari roaring its way off the showroom floor, Elizabethon blasted the Pioneers 40-8 on Homecoming night at Brown-Childress Stadium. The Cyclones
(5-2), who won their first consecutive game following an 0-2 start, racked up 387 yards on the ground. And they put the contest away by scoring 20 unanswered points in the opening stanza.
"We're just a running football team," said Elizabethon coach Shawn Witten. "And we've been running the ball with a lot of success the last five games. We have three good running backs, and we've found a way to spread the ball around. And our line did a good job providing them with running lanes tonight."
Those three running backs---Ethan Thomas, Terrance Turner and Zach Moore---ammassed 307 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Thomas ran for 130 yards on 15 carries; Turner had 104 yards on nine attempts and Moore ran for 73 yards on five touches. The Cyclones set the tone as they scored on their opening possession of the game. Turner rambled in from 42 yards out capping off an eight-play, 74 yard drive for a 6-0 lead with 7:29 left in the first quarter, and the route was on.
"We call ourselves 'The Trio'," Turner said. "We have a lot of speed in our backfield, so the defense can't concentrate on just one guy. They don't know who is getting the ball on every down. All our lineman have to do is to create a seam, and we'll take care of the rest."
The Pioneers (4-3), mired in a two-game losing streak, went three-and-out on their first possession of the game. Then disaster struck as a poor snap from center sailed over punter Alex Parsons' head. He ran it down at the 15-yard-line, got clobbered, coughed up the ball, and Christian Glover recovered the fumble and scored. A two=point conversion run by Thomas made it 14-0 with 5:55 left in the first period.
Things got worse on the ensuing kick-off as Zach Tomer mishandled a short kick from Logan Birchfield and the Cyclones recovered at the WHS 29. They punched it in three plays later on Luke Blanton's one-yard run for 20-0 lead with 4:41 left in the first quarter. The Cyclones scored three touchdown in less then three minutes. That offensive explosion brought back memories of Mooresville's 28-point first quarter assault against WHS in the opening round of the state playoffs last season (a 38-7 loss on November 2, 2011).
"I really thought we were ready to play," said WHS coach Tom Wright. "But we just never got anything established in the first half. I thought we played much better in the second half. I was proud that the kids never gave up and played hard to the end, but we've got work to do, both the players and the coaches. I really think we got complacent after our 4-1 start."
The Pioneers were held to a season-low 62 yards, including a woeful minus eight yards on 14 rushing attempts. The only real bright spots were provided by Sub Steury, who had an 84-yard kick-off return for a touchdown in the third quarter, and quarterback Jay Harrill, who came off the bench and marched the Pioneers from their own seven-yard-line into Elizabethon territory in the fourth quarter before the drive stalled, thanks to an interception by Andon Pearson. Harrill was 6-7 for 58 yards.
Steury had four catches for 32 yards and Michael Ebaugh had two catches for 31 yards. The Pioneer also turned the ball over four times. WHS travels to Alexander Central next Friday night.
NOTES: The Pioneers were held under 100 yards offensively for the second week in a row. They had 85 total yards in a 22-6 loss against Hickory last Friday night....Cameron Baker did not play Friday night. He's is nursing a badly sprained thumb on his left hand. Nick Williams, despite a leg injury, played both ways Friday night....Aaron Dobbins made his varsity debut and threw an interception on his first varsity pass attempt....The Cyclones are 2-0 lifetime against WHS.....The Pioneers haven't had back-to=back efforts like this on offense since 2004. The Pioneers only scored 87 points that entire season.
ELIZABETHON 40, WATAUGA 8
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
WATAUGA 0 0 8 0 - 8
ELIZABETHON 20 13 7 0 - 40
7:29 EHS - TURNER 42-YARD RUN (KICK FAILED)
8 PLAYS-74 YARDS
5:55 EHS - CLOVER 15 YARD RUN (THOMAS RUN)
4:41 EHS - BLANTON 1 YARD RUN (KICK FAILED)
11:04 EHS - THOMAS 10 YARD RUN (BIRCHFIELD KICK)
7 PLAYS-70 YARDS
0:24 EHS - WOODBY 1 YARD RUN (KICK FAILED)
7:59 EHS - MOORE 29-YARD RUN (BIRCHFIELD KICK)
7:44 WHS - STEURY 84-YARD KICK-OFF RETURN (MACKEY PASS TO WILLIAMS)
FIRST DOWNS: EHS 19, WHS 4
RUSHING YARDS: EHS 58-387, WHS 14- -8
PASSING YARDS: EHS 4-6-38, WHS 8-12-2INT-70
TOTAL YARDS: EHS 425, WHS 62
TURNOVERS: EHS 1, WHS 4
PENALTY YARDS: EHS 9-65, WHS 3-25
EHS: THOMAS 15-130-TD, TURNER 9-104-TD, MOORE 5-73-TD
WHS: TAYLOR 4-8
EHS BAILEY 3-3-29, ARMSTRONG 1-3-9
WHS: TAYLOR 2-4-12, HARRILL 6-7-INT-58, DOBBINS 0-1-INT
EHS: BOWERS 3-17, PERKINS 1-21
WHS: EBAUGH 2-31, STEURY 4-32, WILLIAMS 1-7
FRIDAY NIGHT'S GAMES
NORTHWESTERN 3A/4A CONFERENCE
ELIZABETHON 40, WATAUGA 8
ALEXANDER CENTRAL 27, HICKORY 12
SOUTH CALDWELL 55, FRED T. FOARD 0
HIBRITEN 43, ST. STEPHENS 0
HENDERSONVILLE 19, AVERY 0
NORTH WILKES 15, ASHE COUNTY 13