KINGSPORT -- They tried stacking the box. It didn't work.
They tried rushing the line of scrimmage. That was also unsuccessful.
Sullivan North's Golden Raiders tried several solutions. Ethan Thomas couldn't be stopped.
The Elizabethton runner led his team with six touchdowns as the Cyclones stormed over North with a 41-6 victory in Thursday's freshman action.
Thomas, who tallied an even 300 yards on nine carries and completed an eight-yard pass, looked like Bo Jackson in the old Techmo Bowl video game.
Much of that was due to the run blocking provided by the Cyclones' offensive front. Once Thomas breezed through the open gaps at the line of scrimmage, there was nobody on the field that could touch him.
"I couldn't do it without the line," Thomas said. "Everybody was blocking good and the coaches were calling good plays."
"Ethan's a special kid and he's humble," said Elizabethton freshman coach Josh Boatman. "He went to each of the lineman and said 'thank you and good job.' That's one of the best efforts our line has given all year long. We've had him bust plays with his speed and natural ability, but tonight our line had a lot to do with it."
After a defensive stop on the opening series, Elizabethton wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Thomas exploded for a 60-yard touchdown run.
The Raiders battled back, however, with a 60-yard drive of their own, capped by a Brett Peters TD run.
North gambled after its score, attempting an onside kick. Elizabethton recovered and never looked back.
After a 16-yard gain, Thomas took it to the house with a 40-yard score. Quarterback Caleb Armstrong followed suit with a two-point conversion keeper for the 14-0 lead.
The Cyclones closed out the opening stanza on a big note defensively as Brad Kelly jarred the ball loose with a backfield hit on the quarterback, returning possession to the visitors.
Thomas opened the second quarter on point, adding his third trip to paydirt -- this time from 45 yards out.
Elizabethton's defense forced and recovered a second fumble on the following series to set up Thomas' second 40-yard touchdown blast of the game.
The runner didn't stop there, taking a 35-yard run the other way for a 34-6 Cyclone advantage.
North tried to get some momentum on the offensive side of the ball in its last drive, but Elizbethton lineman Steven Grindstaff pressured the Raiders' signal-caller into an interception toss to teammate Hunter Hodges.
Boatman said the defensive performance was on-point by his team.
"We pressured them," said Boatman. "We put a special defense in because they're so run-heavy. We stacked eight in the box and kind of said 'come on with it.'
"I challenged them this week. They're going to want to come at you and want three or four yards at a time and you've got to be able to stop it. You're going to give up a first down here or there and you've got to stop them. That's what we did."
Elizabethton's defense delivered a fourth-down stop on North's longest drive of the game in the third quarter, then Austin Depew added an interception to stop the Raiders' last drive of the game.
Thomas capped his night with a 60-yard run on his final carry of the game in the third quarter to produce the game's final tally.
The Cyclone frosh return to action next week at Sullivan South.