ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Three was the magic number for Cyclones senior Zeth Mullins in a Class 4A first-round playoff matchup against Knox Carter on Friday night.

Three carries for 113 yards and three touchdowns all added up to an efficient evening for No. 7.

“Big game – playoff-type game,” Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten said. “He knew he had to step up.”

But, Mullins prefers to share the credit.

“It was our line,” he said. “If our O-Line didn’t come out there and do their job, then that wouldn’t have been possible.”

However, his impact in the backfield was only half of the story against the Hornets. He also came up with two the the team’s four interceptions in the 38-0 victory.

“He’s a running back with an outside linebacker mentality,” Witten explained. “He flies around and makes a lot of plays – it was a big night for him.”

Mullins guessed he had about ten tackles, but he’s not too sure – he never checked the stat sheet.

“It don’t matter,” he answered quickly. “As long as we got the win.”

Mullins’ two-way responsibility is still relatively new to him.

“Last year I only played defense,” he said. “So, it’s a little bit different coming in this year and playing both sides, but I’m getting used to it.”

“He’s just relentless,” Witten added. “He’s also a long snapper, he’s a kick returner – he does a lot of things for us.”

The transition to the new role has had its challenges, but Mullins has faced them with an unrivaled toughness.

“It’s really just mental,” he said, “because playing both sides gets tiring. But, you just got to overcome that, just keep going.”

Witten also noted the coachability and relentless effort he gets from the senior captain at all times. It’s what makes him such a valuable part of the squad.

“Every week he just continues to listen to the message, he continues to do what you ask him to do and those are the guys you want to go to battle with.”

And Mullins will continue to battle each play he steps on the field – anything to help keep the season alive.

“It’s my senior year,” he said. “I want to go out with a bang.”

Elizabethton will travel to the top seed in Region 2, Anderson County, in a second round matchup on Friday night. The Cyclones saw their 2022 season come to a close at the hands of the Mavericks at the exact same stage of the playoffs.