Cloudland rally falls short against Buffaloes

Published 10:55 pm Sunday, August 27, 2023

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On fourth and sixth from the 11-yard line, the Cloudland Highlanders got just three yards and fell to West Greene 28-22 on Friday night at Orr Field. Senior RB Kyle Birchfield rushed for 188 yards on 33 carries with three touchdowns but the ‘Landers couldn’t overcome turnovers – in particular fumbles.
“We messed up on the last drive,” Birchfield said. “We hurt ourselves with turnovers and fumbles but had a chance to score but we didn’t get it done. I don’t think more than four or five of us were going hard in the last few plays.”
Sophomore quarterback Bryce Birchfield had a 34-yard scamper on the ‘Landers first drive that ended with Kyle Birchfield’s five-yard touchdown run to stake Cloudland (1-1) to a 6-0 lead. West Greene (1-1) answered with a seven-play, 63-yard scoring drive capped off with an 11-yard run from Ean Kieffer to make it a 6-6 contest.
The ‘Landers got a 64-yard kickoff return from Kingston Cole to set up Birchfield’s second touchdown run of the game – this coming from six yards to make it a 14-6 Cloudland advantage after Birchfield ran in the two-point conversion.
The Buffaloes once again answered the Cloudland challenge with a safety and then scored a touchdown after the ‘Landers free kick was returned 52 yards to the Cloudland 10-yard line. From there, Kieffer scored on a three-yard run for a 15-14 West Greene lead at the half.
“We beat ourselves tonight, no question,” ‘Landers head coach Zac Benfield said. “We were undisciplined and inconsistent and that is on me. We fumbled the ball 12 times tonight and you aren’t going to beat anyone doing that.”
West Greene added to its lead in the third period when Maddox Garber scored on a three-yard run and Kendal Caldwell added the point after kick for a 22-14 Buffs lead. The ‘Landers then completed a 12-play 70-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run from Birchfield who also toted the rock for the deuce and tied the score at 22-22.
“We did some things right but we didn’t do it consistently,” Benfield said. “We didn’t do the things we need to do to be successful. We needed to play our game our way 100 percent of the time, not 15 percent. West Greene was disciplined and played their game and that was the difference.”
In the fourth quarter on second and four from the West Greene 35-yard line, Daniels took a shotgun snap, faked a handoff to fullback Wyatt Moody and took off up the middle.
Daniels weaved his way down the sideline and avoided a tackle from Kingston Cole at the 25-yard line and dove into the end zone to complete a 65-yard scoring run. The PAT was missed, leaving the game open to a ‘Landers score tying the game and a potential win with a successful two-point conversion that would have given Cloudland a 30-28 lead.
That never materialized as the ‘Landers drive ended on fourth down with the end zone within reach as West Greene’s defense bowed their necks and made the stop to end the game.
For West Greene, Moody ran for 91 yards on six carries while Daniels had 79 rush yards and Kieffer was good for 64 rush yards.
West Greene 28-22
West Greene 6 9 7 6 – 28
Cloudland 14 0 8 0 – 22
Scoring Summary
First Quarter
C – K. Birchfield 5 run (run failed) 9:50
W – Kieffer 11 run (kick failed) 7:43
C – K. Birchfield 6 run (K. Birchfield run) 6:16
Second quarter
W – Safety
W – Kieffer 5 run (Caldwell kick)
Third Quarter
W – Garber 2 run (Caldwell kick) 10:20
C – K. Birchfield 2 run (K. Birchfield run) 5:48
Fourth Quarter
W – Daniels 65 run (kick failed) 3:33

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