Cloudland holds off Johnson County rally

Published 12:13 am Saturday, October 22, 2022

STAR CORRESPONDENT
In a penalty-plagued contest, the Cloudland Highlanders got a 401-yard rushing effort from senior RB Gage McKinney as the ‘Landers garnered a 54-44 non-conference win over Johnson County on Friday night at Orr Field.
“We have learned how to be physical and have that physical mindset,” Highlanders head coach Zac Benfield said. “But we have to be consistent and be disciplined between the whistles. I’m really proud of the kids from a physical standpoint but we have a lot of mental things to work on if we want to be playing in late November.”
After a Longhorn fumble, recovered by Austin Caraway for Cloudland, the Highlanders marched 58 yards on seven plays with McKinney scoring on a six-yard run for a 6-0 lead. Bryce Birchfield tossed the two-point conversion to Elijah Holsclaw to make it an 8-0 contest.
Johnson County (2-7 overall) had their next possession halted by penalty and had to punt. On the second play of the drive, McKinney scored on a 54-yard run and he also added the deuce for a 16-0 ‘Landers advantage.
Cloudland scored again in the first quarter on a 38-yard run from Kyle Birchfield but the run for two failed and Cloudland settled for a 22-0 lead. In the second period, the Longhorns got moving with junior QB Connor Simcox catching fire in the passing game including a 50-yard pass to sophomore Jace Stout.
Stout caught a 13-yard touchdown pass and also caught the two-pointer to make it a 22-8 game. Cayden Clarke caught a 13-yard scoring pass from McKinney and McKinney’s run made it 30-8 but the ‘Horns came right back on a 62-yard drive with Simcox connecting with brother Ethan Simcox on a two-yard scoring pass as the half ended 30-14.
McKinney rushed for four touchdowns and passed for 65 yards with a touchdown and a two-point conversion pass. For Johnson County, Simcox passed for 355 yards on 18-for-31 completions and six touchdowns.
“I am proud of my effort, but I am more proud of the effort of my team and my linemen,” McKinney said. “I like running the wildcat offense. It gives me a two-way option. I can run or pass and I am very comfortable running that offense.”
The second half was slow-paced with penalties coming on seemingly every play, but some big plays were also made. McKinney finished his big night with a 48-yard touchdown run and he threw for the deuce to Camden Peppers.
Simcox quickly got his team up the field in the closing minute after a long kickoff return and his sixth scoring pass went to Ethan Simcox who caught four touchdown passes.
Cloudland 54-44
Johnson County 0 14 8 22 – 44
Cloudland 22 8 16 8 – 54
Scoring Summary
First Quarter
C – McKinney 6 run (Birchfield pass) 8:53
C – McKinney 54 run (McKinney run) 5:58
C – K. Birchfield 38 run (run failed) :15.1
Second Quarter
J – Stout 13 pass from C. Simcox (Simcox pass) 7:44
C – Clarke 15 pass from McKinney (McKinney run (2:39
J – E. Simcox 2 pass from C. Simcox (pass failed) :32.2
Third Quarter
C – McKinney 1 run (McKinney run) 6:35
J – E. Simcox 46 pass from C. Simcox (C. Simcox run) 4:20
C – McKinney 6 run (Peppers run) :52.7
Fourth Quarter
J – Stout 23 pass from C.Simcox (Simcox pass) 10:28
J – E. Simcox 48 pass from C. Simcox (Simcox pass) 5:39
C – McKinney 47 run (McKinney pass) :36.5
J – E. Simcox 14 pass from C. Simcox (pass failed) :1.9

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