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They may still be scoring… Cloudland runs all over Hancock County

BY AUSTIN ALEXANDER
STAR CORRESPONDENT 
ROAN MOUNTAIN – Rebounding after a tough loss isn’t always easy, but the Cloudland Highlanders would make you think otherwise.
The Highlanders hosted their first conference matchup of the season against the Hancock County Indians on Friday and they came out with a fire under them.
The ‘Landers hit the ground running and they didn’t stop until they saw zeros on the scoreboard winning 49-0.
The Highlanders immediately got to work with their ruthless ground game on the first drive starting with a monster 35-yard run from Seth Birchfield.
Cloudland would keep at the groundwork with four straight runs before quarterback Chase Shell would find Brantley Gilbert for five yards and the first score of the game.
Down seven after the first drive, Hancock County got to work hoping to return the favor to the ‘Landers.
The Indians began putting together a solid drive behind quarterback Devon Blevins, but the drive stalled when Seth Birchfield stepped in front of a pass and took it back 62 yards the other way for the touchdown.
Looking to bounce back from the turnover, Hancock County tried to pave a better path on their second drive but they were met with a tough Cloudland defense.
The result of the drive was a three and out and the Highlanders were chomping at the bit to get the offense back out after the success of their first drive.
The recipe for success remained the same for the Highlanders as they went back to the ground, chipping away at the Indians with Seth Birchfield serving as the ax.
This time he would finish off his dirty work finding pay dirt from five yards and making the lead 21-0 for the Highlanders.
The misery would continue for Hancock County as the Cloudland defense came to play. After a massive sack from Maverick Simerly, the Indians were once again forced into a quick punt.
Back on the field, Shell and company went back to work.
The Hancock County defense put up their best effort yet and pushed the Highlanders into a fourth and medium situation, but Shell would keep and pick up a huge first down.
The very next play, Birchfield would punch it in yet again for the 27-0 lead.
A fumbled snap on the next Indian possession put the Highlanders back on the field with the chance to put the early nail in the coffin and that they did.
Shell would once again find Bentley through the air, this time on a 50-yard connection for the score. Big hoss Eli Presswood would convert the two-point conversion for Cloudland and before the half, the lead was 35 for the ‘Landers.
Cloudland took over after another fumble from the Indians and this time it was Elijah Blair and Caleb Sluder’s turns to wear away at the defense.
The two split carries down the field until Sluder would punch it in from five yards out and the Highlanders would take a 42-0 advantage into the second half.
The third and fourth frames of this matchup saw the running clock on the scoreboard as the lead was essentially unrecoverable for the Indians.
The third quarter was an exchange of three and outs from both parties as the two teams kept it mostly on the ground giving some of the backup brigades some much needed time to shine.
Back to the action in the fourth quarter, a long drive from Cloudland was capped off by Tanner Blevins who scampered in from four yards out. The score made it 49-0 and that’s how it would finish.
An interception from Elijah Holtsclaw sealed the game for Cloudland and the final horn sounded.
A big conference win from the Highlanders sets up what could be a conference deciding matchup with cross-county rival Unaka on October 2nd.
The running game from Cloudland looked nearly unstoppable as the Hancock County defense had no answers for the ‘Landers.
Next up for Cloudland is a newly scheduled game next week at Sunbright Academy, with that kick-off next Friday at 7:30 pm.