Jr. Highlanders conquer Jr. Rangers, 28-14

Published 9:33 pm Saturday, August 24, 2019

Cloudland- Football action is back in full swing this week as the Jr. Rangers of Unaka traveled to Orr Field Thursday night to take on one of their county rivals, the Jr. Highlanders of Cloudland. 
After a valiant effort by the Jr. Rangers in the second half it was too little too late as the Jr. Highlanders had already captured a stronghold in the first half.
For the first few minutes of the ball game, it was a defensive showdown as both teams were held to only four plays on their inaugural drives. Cloudland’s second drive, however, was where things started to come together.
A few plays into the drive, running back Austin Caraway got things going with a 13-yard rush from midfield to the Ranger  37-yard line.
Two plays later, power back Landon Hughes trucked through two Ranger defenders to bring the ball into the red zone at the 13- yard line to end the first quarter.
The second quarter began with a bang when the third running back to carry the ball on the drive, Bryce Birchfield, took the ball from one yard out to score which was then followed by a pass from Eli Morgan to Elijah Holtsclaw for a two-point conversion.
On the other hand, things couldn’t get started for the Jr. Rangers as a drive that started on the 42-yard line was brought back to the 26 due to two consecutive penalties and a fumbled snap.
Things couldn’t get worse as they were forced to punt shortly after.
With the Jr. ‘Landers in possession at the 32, the momentum kept Cloudland going as they were able to march the ball down to the opposing 25-yard line thanks to the running efforts of Hughes, Caraway, and Hayden Arnett.
Things were capped off as Arnett was called on again for a 12-yard rushing touchdown after spinning away from a Ranger defender.
In the final minutes of the first half, Unaka was picked off by Tanner Blevins two plays into the drive.  
Things didn’t stop there however as the favor was returned when Morgan was intercepted to end the half with the Jr. ‘Landers holding a 16-0 lead.
To start off the final half, the Jr. Rangers seemed to have something started as they were able to march from the 38 to the midfield stripe. Things turned bad though when consecutive losses lead to a turnover.
The Jr. ‘Landers kept their hold on the game continuing their dominant rushing performance with many short gains that would lead to another Birchfield touchdown this time from four yards out.
To start the final quarter, Cloudland got the ball back after an onside kick was recovered quickly. 
Things were going well until Morgan was picked off again and the ball was taken by Unaka to the Highlander 25.
Taking advantage of the turnover, Unaka was able to score swiftly with a designed QB run from ten yards out.
Things turned into an offensive contest when Cloudland was able to score from 40 yards out on a rush by Arnett making it a 28-8 ball game.
In a late drive where Unaka was now playing just to make it close, a bad snap led to a great recovery that would result in a 53-yard rush that would basically put an end to an exciting rivalry game with a final score of 28-14 in favor of the hometown Jr. Highlanders. 

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