‘Landers ground game crushes Cosby

Published 8:10 am Tuesday, October 17, 2023

STAR CORRESPONDENT

COSBY – The Cloudland Highlanders won their third consecutive game and fourth in the conference and took control of Region 1A with a 55-14 win over the Cosby Eagles at Virgil Ball Stadium on Friday night.

Landers defense strikes the opening blow

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Auston Caraway opened the scoring by picking off a pass from freshman quarterback Oaklon Cameron and took it back 57 yards for the pick-six to give Cloudland (5-3, 4-0 conference) a 6-0 lead.

“This was my first pick six ever,” Caraway said. “When I got it, I really wanted to score. I think we dominated them on the front line and that was big for us. I can’t wait to see if we can win the conference.”

Cloudland rushed for 343 yards with senior RB Kyle Birchfield going for 234 yards and Grayson Cole added 77 ground yards on nine carries with a pair of touchdowns.

The Eagles came right back with a 31-yard scoring strike from Cameron to WR Trevor Larue to make it a 6-6 contest.

Second quarter offensive blitz opens huge lead for ‘Landers

Birchfield capped a 10-play, 74-yard drive with the first of his four touchdowns – this from 24 yards out for a 14-6 ‘Landers lead. Caraway struck again from his LB position, picking off Cameron once again and ran 25 yards to paydirt and a 20-6 lead.

Cosby (1-7, 0-4) gained a bit of momentum when Wigfall took a pitch and ran 65 yards down the home sideline for a touchdown that made it a 20-14 game after Cameron hit Wigfall with a two-point pass.

The ‘Landers took over from there with Cole scoring on a one-yard plunge and after a Cosby punt, Birchfield capped off an 84-yard drive with a one-yard score for a 36-14 Cloudland lead. Bryce Birchfield intercepted Cameron at midfield and Kyle Birchfield scored once again to make it a 42-14 halftime advantage.

“We have picked things up and have bonded as a team. Our linemen blocked very well tonight,” Birchfield said. “Our receivers block downfield very well. Auston’s interception gave us a big lift and with everyone buying in now we feel we’re ready for anything.”

Second half running clock doesn’t slow ‘Landers

Cloudland took the second half kickoff and marched 72 yards on eight running plays with Cole scoring on a three-yard run to stake the ‘Landers to a 48-14 lead. In the fourth quarter, Birchfield pulled off a nice run-pass option play and scored on a 64-yard run. Jacob Stinnett added the point after kick for the final margin of victory.

“We are playing with more confidence, were playing hard and tackling better on defense,” ‘Landers head coach Zac Benfield said. “We are playing with more discipline and have cut down the penalties which hurt us early on. A little success goes a long way with young men and they understand that if they prepare and practice hard all week, it pays off on Friday night. I’m proud of them.”

Cloudland 55-14

Cloudland 6 36 6 7 – 55

Cosby 6 6 0 0 – 14

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

Cl – Caraway 57 interception return (kick failed) 4:20

C – Wigfall 31 pass from Cameron (kick failed) :18

Second Quarter

Cl – K. Birchfield 24 run (K. Birchfield run) 7:54

Cl – Caraway 25 interception return (run failed) 7:36

C – Wigfall 65 run (Cameron pass to Wigfall) 7:18

Cl – Cole 1 run (K. Birchfield run) 4:11

Cl – K. Birchfield 1 run (G. Cole run) :56

Cl – K. Birchfield 2 run (kick failed) :00

Third Quarter

Cl – Cole 3 run (kick failed) 8:16

Fourth Quarter

Cl – K. Birchfield 64 run (Stinnett kick) 6:49

Individual Statistics

RUSHING

Cl – K. Birchfield 23-234, G. Cole 9-77, Peppers 4-32. C – Davis 3-2, Wigfall 1-65, Cameron 2- (-17), Baker 3-0, Manning 1-14, Shropshire 1-5, Holt 2-5.

PASSING

Cl – B. Birchfield 2-6 48 yds. 0 TD, 1 int. K. Birchfield 0-3. C – Cameron 11-22 129 yds. 1 TD, 3 ints.

RECEIVING

Cl – Caraway 1-5, Gouge 1-43. C – Larue 4-61, Wigfall 3-35, Shropshire 1-16, Davis 2-4, Manning 1-13