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Mavs beat Cyclones 21-7

ACHS moves on to next round of playoffs Corporate Cond -20

  • Anderson County’s workhorse running back Nick Moog has slipped past many defensive fronts during the 2023 season. - Ricky Williams

  • Defensive tackle Eli Nelson (52) had six tackles for the night. Three of those were for a loss. - Ricky Williams

Anderson County advanced to the TSSAA Class 4A football quarterfinals with a victory over one of its regular postseason rivals.

In doing so, the Mavericks defeated Elizabethton for the third consecutive time over the past two years.

Anderson County and the Cyclones met twice last season, with the Mavs winning in overtime in a regular-season tilt. The two rivals also played in the postseason with ACHS nabbing a 30-24 victory on its way to going 15-0 and winning its first-ever state championship.

In the most recent showdown Friday night, the Mavericks had a bit of an easier time, at least according to the scoreboard.

Anderson County notched a 21-7 win at home, setting a showdown with another longtime nemesis, Greeneville.

ACHS also knocked off the Greene Devils in the playoffs last season. The two teams will renew acquaintances in Northeast Tennessee Friday with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.

The Mavericks (8-4) punched their ticket to the third round with a stifling defense in a game where points came at a premium.

ACHS defensive linemen Eli Nelson and Gracen Bradshaw were dominant forces on the defensive front as the Mavericks all but shut down the Cyclones’ rushing attack, allowing just two runs that netted more than nine yards.

Nelson finished the contest with six tackles (including three tackles for loss) and two sacks, while Bradshaw was constantly around the football. He and his teammates on defense forced the Cyclones to all but completely abandon their ground game.

Linebacker Taylor Davis came up with five tackles (including one TFL) and a sack. Landon Engle recorded a sack against Elizabethton (9-2). Xavian James and Daylen Cole each starred on both sides of the ball for the Mavericks, who turned the Cyclones away multiple times on fourth down.

James had a sack on defense. He also hauled in seven receptions, including a touchdown catch. Cole caught two touchdown passes and pulled in a pair of interceptions for Anderson County, which opened a 14-0 lead by halftime.

Quarterback Zae Hall was 13-for-21 through the air, amassing 206 yards and throwing three scoring strikes.

“He was huge tonight,” ACHS Coach Davey Gillum said of Hall. “I’m so proud of my kids and my coaches for going back to work, taking almost a whole new team, minus (running back and linebacker) Nick Moog, Eli, Bradshaw and Daylen, four kids that played last year, and I don’t want to say the same product, but at the end of the day, we’re going to all be fighting for the same thing.

“And it says a lot about these kids, the work they’ve put in, and the culture we’ve built, and their expectations here.”

The Mavs will head north to face the Greene Devils (10-0). Anderson County snapped a long postseason losing streak to Greeneville with a 38-7 win in last year’s playoffs.