Birchfield’s magic more than enough to fend off Warriors

Published 12:48 am Saturday, October 16, 2021

BY AUSTIN ALEXANDER
STAR CORRESPONDENT
ROAN MOUNTAIN – The Happy Valley Warriors knew they had a tough task ahead of them on Friday night as they made the drive up Roan Mountain to take on the Cloudland Highlanders. A clear underdog, the Warriors were tasked big time, but anything was possible.

A promising start showed a sliver of hope for Happy Valley, but this Cloudland team was determined and shut it down, 50-14.

The Warriors took the opening kickoff and the offense looked poised to try and get something going. Explosiveness was what the Warriors needed and that’s exactly what they got on play one with Reagan Ensor connecting with Andrew Little for 64 yards and a touchdown.

Cloudland wasted no time answering back with a monstrous long drive mostly on the ground. Caleb Sluder and Seth Birchfield would beat the Warriors up on the ground with Birchfield absolutely dominating the Valley defense. The Landers would cap off the drive with a Birchfield five-yard touchdown.

Trailing 8-6, the Warriors offense stalled out next drive as they lacked any push.

The Highlanders once again rode their workhorse Birchfield down the field with some help from Sluder. Birchfield would cap the 15 play drive with another touchdown. Another two-point conversion made it 16-6.

Happy Valley’s offense continued to struggle for the rest of the first half as Ensor had little time anytime he dropped back to pass.

After a turnover on downs, Birchfield cracked a 45-yard touchdown run to give the Highlanders a three-score lead over the Warriors.

A big 60-yard return from Andrew Little seemed to spark a little momentum for the Warriors, but a fumble on the first play of the drive halted the offense again.

Quarterback Chase Shell called his own number for 16 yards on the first play of the ensuing drive. Once again, Birchfield would capitalize with another score, this time from four yards out and the Highlanders led 30-6 at the half.

Birchfield and company wasted little time getting back on the board in the second half with an opening play 51-yard touchdown run. After the two-point conversion, the Landers led 38-6.

A three and out set the stage for the next Cloudland drive which saw Sluder take the bulk of the carries, including a massive 63-yard run. Sluder would cap off the drive with a score and the running clock was in full effect.

A Gage McKinney interception set up the last ‘Lander score of the night from none other than Birchfield.

The Warriors offense finally got some momentum deep into the fourth quarter with some good runs from Pedro Colunga that set up the passing game from Ensor. Ensor would connect with Landon Babb a couple of times before hitting Blake Garmon with a big 41-yard strike to cut the deficit to 50-14.

That’s how it would finish with the Highlanders winning in an emphatic fashion. Birchfield unofficially ran for 311 yards bringing his three-game total to close to 900.