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Cloudland run game upends Unaka

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN

STAR CORRESPONDENT

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.

“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