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Turnovers, Thomas too much for Pioneers

The Pioneers of David Crockett High School hit the road Sept. 12 for the second time this season, hoping to bounce back against a talented Elizabethton team just a week after losing big to Science Hill in Jonesborough.
But early turnovers and facing one of the area’s best running backs proved too much for the Pioneers to overcome in a 55-20 contest.
Crockett found themselves in a hole early after holding the Cyclones to a punt on the game’s first possession, but a muffed return gave Elizabethton the ball inside the Pioneer 20.
Two plays later, Cyclone running back Ethan Thomas introduced himself to the Crockett defense, scampering into the end zone from 8 yards out for his first of five touchdowns in the contest.
Looking to even the score on the ensuing possession, a promising Pioneer drive came to a halt with another fumble.
Elizabethton took advantage again, this time on a Caleb Armstrong touchdown pass.
Thomas’ second score of the game came from a yard out with the contest still in the first quarter putting the Cyclones ahead 21-0.
The Pioneers responded to the big deficit with their best offensive drive of the quarter, but inside the Elizabethton 10, Crockett put the ball on the ground for the third time.
The Cyclones followed the turnover by driving the length of the field, and Thomas punched into the end zone for his third touchdown of the first half to give Elizabethton a 28-0 advantage.
Crockett would finally get on the board in the first half as quarterback Ryan Burger capped off the scoring drive on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Eric Day.
The Pioneers converted the two-point conversion to cut the Elizabethton lead to 28-8.
But the momentum was short-lived as the Cyclones responded just before the half when Thomas broke away from Crockett defenders to race to the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown, sending the contest to the half with Elizabethton controlling a 35-8 lead.
Crockett opened the second half with a long drive concluding with Burger’s second touchdown pass of the game, this time on an 18-yard pass to Tom Merriman.
Unfortunately for the Pioneers, there was no stopping Thomas who broke off his second long touchdown run of the game, this time sprinting 65 yards to pay dirt.
Crockett’s final score would come on T.K. Hill’s kickoff return for six.
Overall, the Pioneer offense was effective for the majority of the game, but couldn’t overcome the critical drive-killing turnovers early and their defense struggled to get stops.
Thomas gashed Crockett for 198 yards on the ground and as a team, the Cyclones totaled 410 yards rushing.
Hill led Crockett with 107 yards rushing, and Burger finished an efficient 20-of-24 passing for 210 yards and two touchdown passes.
Day was Burger’s favorite target, hauling in 10 catches for over 100 yards in the contest.
Elizabethton moves to 3-1 on the season with the win and the Pioneers fell to 2-2.
It won’t get any easier for Crockett as they will return to action next week in Kingsport against Dobyns-Bennett.