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Turning on the gas… Bulldogs ride big second quarter on way to 44-14 win over Cloudland

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
HAMPTON – The Hampton Bulldogs sputtered out of the gate against the Cloudland Highlanders like a Six Flags jalopy car but it would take only one-quarter of play and a good dose of Michael Lunsford additive to get the fuel flowing as the Bulldogs scored five touchdowns in the second 12 minutes of play to roll past the Highlanders 44-14.

It was the second meeting of the year between the schools with the ‘Dogs sweeping the pair after winning in Roan Mountain earlier in the season.

Hampton actually appeared ready to strike first in the game in the first quarter but a fumble at the Cloudland five-yard line was picked up by ‘Lander Caleb Sluder who outran everyone 95 yards for the game’s first score.

Gage McKinney’s two-point conversion staked the visitors from Roan Mountain to an 8-0 lead.

That would be the only score of the quarter as the Bulldogs seemed a little stunned by the early developments.

Whatever the Bulldogs were feeling quickly evaporated in the second quarter when junior quarterback Conor Jones called his own number and raced 14 yards to pay dirt with 9:30 showing on the second-quarter clock.

Jones took care of the two-point conversion to even the game at 8-8.

After shutting down the Highlanders on the ensuing possession, Hampton took the lead and never looked back when Jones found Morgan Lyons on a 29-yard scoring toss with 3:40 left in the half.

Michael Harrison blasted the point-after and the ‘Dogs took the lead at 15-8.

The ‘Dogs weren’t finished in the half as a fumble set Hampton back up in business and Jones went back to the airway finding wide receiver Jonathan Greenwell on a 33-yard touchdown pass with Harrison’s kick extending the ‘Dog lead to 22-8.

Hampton added its third score with 1:05 remaining in the half when Jones legged in an 11-yard run to push the halftime lead to 29-8 after Harrison’s PAT.

With the lead in their pocket, the ‘Dogs took the opening kickoff and quickly turned it into points as Jones connected with Ryan Crumley on a 35-yard strike to push the lead to 36-8 on Harrison’s PAT.

Cloudland did manage to add another score in the third quarter when Gage McKinney brought the fans from Roan Mountain to their feet with a scintillating 90-yard kickoff return.

The two-point conversion failed and the scoreboard read 36-14 with the ‘Dogs in control.

For good measure, Hampton tacked on another score in the fourth quarter when Aidan Vines scampered across the goal line on a 26-yard run and then converted the two-point conversion for good measure to give the game its final score.

Both teams recorded 13 first downs in the contest but there was a disparaging difference in total yards as Hampton rolled up 411 yards while Cloudland finished with 139.

Hampton had 227 yards of rushing on 44 carries and added 184 yards through the air. Cloudland’s total came mainly from the ground as the ‘Landers had 30 carries good for 126 yards and added 13 through the air.

Cloudland had three fumbles and lost two while Hampton coughed the ball up one time.

The Highlanders were flagged eight times for 70 yards while Hampton drew 11 flags for 76 yards.

Individual stats showed Jones carrying the ball 17 times for 132 yards and two scores with VInes finishing with 14 carries for 70 yards and a score to cap off his Senior Night.

Seth Birchfield led the ‘Landers on the ground with 20 touches covering 108 yards.

The Hampton defense logged three sacks against the Highlander quarterbacks with Lyons, Vines, and R.D. Ward each credited with a sack. The two teams accounted for an interception apiece as Cloudland’s Sluder had his teams and freshman Dylan Trivett recorded Hampton’s.

Hampton takes to the road next week for its biggest game of the season as they travel to South Greene to take on the undefeated Rebels for what could be the Region 1 2A championship.

The Highlanders are scheduled to travel to Jellico to take on the Blue Devils in a Region 1-A tilt.