Cloudland run game upends Unaka

Published 11:39 pm Friday, August 27, 2021

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Cloudland rushed for 402 yards with senior running back Seth Birchfield good for 151 and fellow senior Caleb Sluder pitched in with 109 as the Highlanders dominated Unaka 56-22 on Friday night at Goddard Field.

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“Seth Birchfield is a beast,” ‘Landers head coach Zac Benfield said. “We played physically good, but one thing we have to do is cut down the penalties. We had a lot of retaliation penalties and that will be addressed. We have to keep our cool, but it’s a learning experience.”

For the second straight week senior running back Seth Birchfield rushed for multiple touchdowns, scoring from three yards and 45 yards offensively, and scored on a six-yard fumble return.

Senior Caleb Sluder rushed for 109 first-half yards and scored a pair of touchdowns as the ‘Landers took a 46-8 halftime lead.

Cloudland (2-0, 2-0 WVC) scored on its first drive – a six-play 60-yard drive – with Sluder scoring from 13 yards out. Birchfield took in the deuce for an 8-0 ‘Lander lead.

The Rangers (1-1, 1-1WVC) had a bad snap on a punt attempt with Birchfield scooping up the loose ball and scoring for a 16-0 Cloudland lead.

Unaka continued to hurt themselves offensively with penalties and quarterback Landon Ramsey was just two-for-14 passing with a 36-yard scoring pass to Devin Ramsey. The Ramsey to Ramsey connection made it 22-8 early in the second period.

From there Birchfield scored on a 45-yard blast that saw several Rangers players bouncing off him and none were able to bring him down.

Gage McKinney caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Camden Peppers who played well in injured senior Chase Shell’s stead.

Sluder capped off the first-half scoring on a 43-yard scoring run to make it 46-8 at the break.

Unaka had a pair of scoring drives in the third period with Ramsey hitting Caleb Lydick on a 47-yard scoring pass and Isaiah White on a 21-yard touchdown toss to cut the ‘Landers lead to 46-22 with 1:08 left in the stanza.

Ramsey shook off a poor first half finishing with 157 passing yards on 7-of-21 completions and three touchdowns.

With Shell out, Benfield had to adjust his game plan quite a bit saying, “We had to alter our game plan quite a bit. I had planned to throw a little bit tonight to prepare for Rockwood, but Cam did a great job.

“He has a great arm and he plays a lot of different positions for us. We don’t have any long-term goals like going unbeaten or going to state, I am preaching getting better each week.”

Cloudland 56-22

Cloudland 22 24 0 8 – 56

Unaka 0 8 14 0 – 22

Scoring summary

First Quarter

C – Sluder 13 run (S. Birchfield run) 8:56

C – S. Birchfield 6 fumble recovery (S. Birchfield run) 8:08

C – S. Birchfield 3 run (pass failed) .5

Second Quarter

U – D. Ramsey 36 pass from L. Ramsey (Blamo pass from Ramsey) 11:15

C – S. Birchfield 45 run (Sluder run) 10:12

C – McKinney 25 pass from Peppers (Sluder run) 6:19

C – Sluder 43 run (Caraway run) 3:00

Third Quarter

U – Lydick 37 pass from L. Ramsey (L. Ramsey pass to D. Ramsey) 4:33

U – White 21 pass from L. Ramsey (pass failed) 1:23

Fourth Quarter

C – K. Birchfield 9 run (K. Birchfield run) 1:29