Highlanders survive Green Wave, 36-22

Published 9:44 am Monday, November 5, 2018

The Highlanders worked out to a 22-6 lead, and it seemed the tide was going to stay low Friday night in Roan Mountain during round one of the TSSAA Class 1A Playoffs.

The Green Wave, however, came crashing down in the third quarter as Midway quarterback Jason Taylor hit teammate Hunter Mims on an 82-yard touchdown toss to make it a 22-22.

The Highlanders, behind a 273-yard rushing performance by senior Jordan Coffey, weathered the flood and took a 36-22 win on a mud-filled field.

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“We did a great job,” said Cloudland head coach Mike Lunsford. “When they tied it up 22-22, they had all of the momentum. Things were looking bad and we were in a bad situation. The kids responded. Line blocked well.”

Both teams struck in the first quarter. After a big sack for loss by Highlanders Malachi Benfield that led to the Green Wave turning the ball over on downs, Coffey found an open hole and took the ball 55-yards for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion failed, and the Highlanders led 6-0 with 5:21 left in the first.

A little more than a minute later, Midway answered. The Green Wave’s Andrew Bunton took the ball 45-yards to the house to tie things up at 6-6.

The Highlanders, following big runs by Josh Blair and Hunter Blair, scored when Coffey cut to the left of the Midway defense and carried the ball 17 yards before diving into the end zone for a TD. Coffey followed with the 2-point conversion run, and Cloudland led 14-6 with 38 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Neither team found the scoreboard in the second quarter.

After a deep Midway punt in the second quarter, the Highlanders started inside their own 10-yard line. Cloudland would drive across the field to inside the Green Wave’s 10 before Midway made a big stand and forced Cloudland to turn the ball over on downs. The teams headed into the half with Cloudland leading 22-6.

Midway opened up the second half with the ball. The Green Wave’s drive, however, would be stifled by a big sack from Cloudland’s David Miller.

After forcing Midway to punt, the Highlanders, aided by a couple chop-block penalties against the Midway defense, worked down to the Midway 1. From there, Coffey dove over the pile and into the end zone, moving Cloudland on out 22-6 with 6:56 left in the third after Benfield connected with teammate Triston Lacy on the 2-point conversion pass.

The Green Wave answered with a 55-yard TD pass from Taylor to Mims to cut into Cloudland’s lead 22-14 halfway through the third.

On the ensuing kickoff, Mims recovered the onsides kick. The following drive would be cut short as Lacy broke up a Taylor pass on fourth down.

The Highlanders’ following possession would result in a turnover on downs before Taylor and Mims connected on the 82-yard pass play that tied the game up at 22-22.

The Highlanders found enough momentum in the fourth to score twice with Coffey scoring on a 2-yard and a 5-yard touchdown to give the game its 36-22 final.

Next week, the Highlanders will host Coalfield in round two of the TSSAA Playoffs.