Cloudland holds off late Vikings rally

Published 10:45 am Saturday, September 9, 2017

Junior tailback Jordan Coffey had another big night rushing with 262 yards and three touchdowns as Cloudland held off Avery County (NC) 42-36 on Friday night at Orr Field.

“I’m just glad to run behind my line,” Coffey said. “We haven’t reached our full potential yet, we can all get better.”

Avery (1-3) opened with a smart drive from the Vikings 33-yard line and scored in 10 plays with junior tailback Sam McCollum scoring from 12 yards out. Van McCollum ran in the deuce for an 8-0 Avery County lead.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Cloudland (3-0) responded with a 10-play, 73-yard drive with Coffey scoring on a 9-yard blast. Josh Blair ran in the two pointer to tie the game at 8-8. The Highlanders forced a punt on the next Vikings possession and took over at the 48-yard line of Avery.

Seven plays later Blair scored on an 11-yard run but failed on the 2-point run as Cloudland now led 14-8. The Vikings drove to the ‘Landers 19-yard line from where Van McCollum was intercepted at the 1-yard line by Hunter Blair.

Cloudland then methodically drove 99 yards on 15 plays with junior quarterback Malachi Benfield connecting with senior wideout Jacob Singleton on a 21-yard scoring pass. Josh Blair ran in the deuce for a 22-8 ‘Landers advantage.

That lead was cut immediately as Sam McCollum took the kickoff 85 yards to pay dirt with the 2-point run no good to make it a 22-14 game at the break.

The ‘Landers opened the third period with an eight play, 52-yard drive with Coffey capping the scoring drive with a 5-yard run for a 28-14 Cloudland lead. Avery came right back with a quick drive that saw Van McCollum score on a 35-yard run after stopping the ‘Landers on fourth down.

“We have had a hard time in the kicking game,” ‘Landers head coach Mike Lunsford said of the decision to go for it on fourth and long. “We have had two blocked and had another go about five yards. We have to be smarter as a football team. We made too many mental mistakes.”

With the score standing 28-20 the ‘Landers scored twice – once on a 4-yard run by Josh Blair – and the other when John Gouge recovered an onsides kick to give Cloudland a 42-20 lead.

McCollum threw for 150 yards and rushed for 129 yards in the losing effort, but he connected with his brother Sam on touchdown passes of 53 and 68 yards in the fourth quarter.

For more photos, box score, and a more in-depth look at Friday’s game pick up Tuesday’s Gridiron Weekly inside the Elizabethton Star.