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Cloudland runs roughshod on penalty plagued Jellico

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN

STAR CORRESPONDENT

The Cloudland Highlanders offense operated like a fine-tuned machine turning in a 42-7 Watauga Valley Conference victory over the Jellico Blue Devils on Friday night at Orr Field.

The ‘Landers played with heavy hearts for teammate Landon Johnson whose father passed away suddenly and in a pre-game tribute helium balloons were released by Johnson and his sister and a moment of silence was observed.

Cloudland (1-0, 1-0 WVC) scored on its first five possessions with senior running back Seth Birchfield rushing for 201 yards on nine carries including four touchdowns. The Highlanders opened with a seven-play 39-yard scoring drive capped off by a three-yard Birchfield run.

“Seth is a great back,” stated ‘Landers head coach Zac Benfield. “A lot of backs are either fast or tough but Seth has that combination of being fast and hard-nosed. I thought we came out disciplined and mentally prepared and one thing I preached on in practice was to start fast and we started fast.”

The ‘Landers second possession saw them drive 85 yards on eight plays with Birchfield scoring on a one-yard run. Senior quarterback Chase Shell connected with Coy Laney on the deuce for a 14-0 Cloudland advantage.

Birchfield’s third score came on a 50-yard run giving Cloudland a 22-0 lead after the two-point run from Austin Caraway. Shell capped off the next ‘Landers scoring drive with a six-yard pass to Gage McKinney and Caleb Sluder added to two-pointer for a 30-0 ‘Landers lead.

Birchfield wasn’t finished however as with Cloudland backed up to its three-yard line he took off down the sideline on a 97-yard scoring run for a 36-0 halftime advantage.

When asked if this was how he wanted to open his senior season Birchfield said, “It was. My line blocked great, and we played pretty balanced. I hope we can keep it going.”

Shell completed five of six first-half passes for 113 yards and a touchdown for the ‘Landers.

With a running clock in the third period, Jellico went on a 60-yard scoring drive that took up all but 1:38 of the period on 14 plays. Quarterback Kade Evans scored on a seven-yard run with Max Schepl kicking the point after.

Cloudland finished with 301 yards rushing on 21 tries while Jellico managed just 155 yards of total offense with 111 rushing yards.

Cloudland 42-7

Jellico 0 0 7 0 – 7

Cloudland 22 14 6 0 – 42

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

C – S. Birchfield 3 run (run failed) 8:20

C – S. Birchfield 1 run (Shell pass to Laney) 3:24

C – S. Birchfield 50 run (Caraway run) :46

Second Quarter

C – G. McKinney 6 pass from Shell (Sluder run) 6:22

C – S. Birchfield 97 run (pass failed) 3:00

Third Quarter

J – Evans 7 run (Schepl kick) 1:38

C – Caraway 4 run (run failed) 1:11