Cloudland gets past Happy Valley

Published 11:07 pm Friday, August 28, 2015



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Turnovers are the killer and Happy Valley had three of them on Friday night on Warrior Hill as the Warriors fell to Cloudland 30-14 in the season opener. Senior quarterback Austin Whitehead rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns and had an interception for Cloudland who came back from an opening week loss.

“It felt like we left three touchdowns on the field tonight,” commented Warriors head coach Jason Jarrett. “The problem is we failed to establish the running game like we wanted to and we had some opportunities on offense. The defense played their tails off and was on the field all night. The offense just didn’t execute the pitches and catches and it just didn’t work out for us.”

Cloudland took the opening kickoff and went 40 yards in six plays with Austin Whitehead taking it in from the four yard line. The drive was aided by a nice return of the kickoff by Noah Arnett who ran 35 yards to the Happy Valley 40 to set the Highlanders in good field position.

The Warriors drove to the ’Landers 25 yard line with the help of two Cloudland penalties that enabled the drive to stay alive. From there junior quarterback Sage Haun was intercepted in the end zone by Colby Birchfield.

The Happy Valley defense then rose to the occasion forcing Cloudland to turn it over on downs and the Warriors took over at the ‘Landers 20 yard line. HV could move just to the 15 and turned it back over to Cloudland on downs at the 15 yard line.

Once again it was the Warriors defense that rose up with Austin Hicks sacking Whitehead atthe two yard line where the ball came loose and HV’s Seth Chesser scored on the fumble recovery. Justin Morefield kicked the point after and HV held a 7-6 lead after one period.

After an exchange of possessions Cloudland took control at their own five yard line and drove 95 yards in 15 plays with Colby Birchfield scoring from four yards out and Whitehead ran in the deuce to give the ‘Landers a 14-7 halftime lead.

HV let a golden scoring opportunity get away when senior receiver Josh Hammonds dropped a Haun pass in the end zone just before the half.

Both teams punted on their first possessions of the third period but on it’s second try HV drove to the Cloudland two yard line before a fumble by Mookie Madison gave it back to Cloudland at the 20 yard line.

After a short ‘Landers punt the Warriors took possession at the Cloudland 38 and on second down Madison ran 35 yards to paydirt with Morefield’s PAT tying the contest at 14-14 at the11:48 mark of regulation.

“It was our second game but it felt like our first,” said Cloudland head coach Brock Pittman. “We gave them three first downs on penalties and we have to clean that up. On the line we rotated guys in and out and the line has some tough (you know what’s). I feel blessed to have such a tough bunch of kids.”

A solid kick return set Cloudland up at the 34 yard line and seven plays later Whitehead rushed eight yards for the score with Birchfield adding the two pointer to give the ‘Landers a 22-14 lead.

“The o-line dominated and opened things up for me and Austin all night,” Birchfield said. “It’s the last time we will play on this field and we wanted it to be a good last time.”

On the next HV possession Haun tossed his second interception to Whitehead who returned to the HV 26 yard line. It took Cloudland just three plays to cash in the gift and with the deuce run by Birchfield took a 30-14 lead.

“Last week we had no turnovers and coach said we need to get the ball back on offense,” Whitehead said. “We created points off turnovers, and I’ll tell you I’m beat down and tired but we stuck together like the brothers we said we are and I am just so happy for my team tonight.”