Cloudland rallies past Buffs with second-half surge

Published 1:04 am Saturday, October 2, 2021

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
STAR CORRESPONDENT
ROAN MOUNTAIN – West Greene drew the first blood but with senior running back Seth Birchfield rushing for 338 yards and three touchdowns as Cloudland rallied for a 20-7 non-conference win.
“Seth had at least 280 yards after first contact,” Highlanders head coach Zac Benfield said. “He is an all-conference kid. We were flat in the first half and we have got to improve on it. But, the response we had in the second half speaks to the character of these kids.”
A little trickeration went a long way for West Greene on the Buffaloes opening possession pulling off a fake punt to give themselves a first down at the Highlanders 49-yard line. On the next play junior quarterback, Jaden Gregg connected with Braylon Rader on a 51-yard touchdown strike with Blair Shelton adding the point-after kick.
The Buffs 7-0 lead held through the first half with Cloudland being held on downs twice in the half. ‘Landers senior quarterback Chase Shell began a comeback drive late in the half from the Buffs 40-yard line that died inside the 10 after a 34-yard pass to Caleb Sluder to the seven-yard line as time ran out in the half.
The ‘Landers (5-1 overall) came out with a six-play, 78-yard drive to open the third quarter with Birchfield scoring from 16 yards out. He also scored the deuce for an 8-7 Cloudland lead.
The Buffs (4-2 overall) were forced to punt on their next possession and the ‘Landers were on the march once again. After being pinned at the 21-yard line on a fine punt from Shelton, Birchfield took over, going 79 yards for the score that made it a 14-7 contest.
“We just stayed in our Power I in the second half,” Benfield said. “I told the kids, Scotty Verran’s defense is going to do a million things. They will switch and stunt but if we take care of the little things the rest will take care of itself.”
West Greene moved in spurts in the second half but head coach Scotty Verran said, “We couldn’t find the open man in the second half. We just couldn’t connect. Seemed like we couldn’t get rolling and this was a tough non-conference game.”
With under a minute left Birchfield scored on a 29-yard scamper to complete the scoring as the pass for two failed.
Caleb Sluder rushed for 75 yards and had a 34-yard reception for the ‘Landers.
For West Greene Gregg passed for 97 yards on eight-for-16 completions.

Cloudland 20-7
W.Greene    7  0    0  0 –    7
Cloudland  0  0  12  8 – 20
Scoring Summary
First Quarter
WG – Rader 51 pass from Gregg (Shelton kick) 8:37
Third Quarter
C – S. Birchfield 16 run (Birchfield run) 9:47
C – S. Birchfield 79 run (pass failed) 5:34
Fourth Quarter
C – S. Birchfield 29 run (run failed) :59