It was a game for the ages in Roan Mountain on Friday night.
Cloudland erased a 26-point third quarter deficit to take a 60-56 victory over Harriman in the Class A Playoffs at Orr Field. Senior Noah Arnett had 405 yards on the ground to help power the thrilling comeback.
The ‘Landers will host Coalfield in the second round on Friday night.
Harriman found the scoreboard first as T.J. Phipps scored on a two-yard run, but the conversion attempt failed. Arnett and the ‘Landers answered on the ensuing drive as Arnett scored on a two-yard run to even things up at 6-6.
The teams traded turnovers, and the Blue Devils took a 14-6 lead into the second quarter when Joe Pace found Giovanni Cromwell for a 24-yard touchdown pass.
Arnett opened the second quarter with a 60-yard touchdown run as Cloudland closed the gap back to two points. Harriman struck quickly as Pace hit Isaiah McClain for a 61-yard touchdown.
The ‘Landers went on a methodical drive taking nearly eight minutes off the clock and moving inside the 10-yard line. However, penalties halted the drive that forced a turnover on downs.
The Blue Devils took advantage as Pace found Cromwell for a 75-yard touchdown pass, and the ensuing conversion gave Harriman a 28-12 advantage.
On the next Cloudland drive, Arnett capped off a quick drive with a 13-yard score. Harriman, however, had one more score in them before halftime as Pace and Cromwell connected for a 40-yard touchdown as time expired. The conversion was good as Cloudland went to the locker room down 36-18.
The start of the second half saw Harriman strike quickly. Pace escaped for a 55-yard touchdown run that gave the Blue Devils a 44-18 lead with 11:43 to play in the frame.
After the teams traded possessions, Malachi Benfield scored on a 1-yard run to get Cloudland back on the board. The ‘Lander defense forced Harriman off the field with a three and out.
Arnett showed off his speed on the punt as he ran through the Blue Devil coverage for a 72-yard touchdown. That closed Cloudland within 44-30 with 1:05 left in the third.
The ensuing kickoff saw CHS’ Ethan Cable jump on an onside kick, and Arnett scored on a 40-yard run on the drive’s first play. The senior added the conversion as Cloudland trailed 44-38 entering the final 12 minutes.
Benfield opened the final quarter with a 13-yard touchdown that tied the game at 44-44 with just over eight minutes left on the clock. Pace and Cromwell struck again on the next drive for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Sophomore Josh Blair, however, answered for Cloudland as he capped off a quick drive with a 13-yard touchdown. Blair also added the conversion that gave the ‘Landers a 52-50 lead with 5:52 to play.
Less than a minute later, Harriman went back in front as Brandon Emily caught a 28-yard pass for the score. The conversion was unsuccessful as the Blue Devils held a slim 56-52 lead with 4:25 to play.
Cloudland, however, wouldn’t be deterred.
The ‘Landers regained the lead with 1:42 to play after Arnett escaped down the left side on a fourth down and arrived in the end zone 45 yards later. Blair added the conversion that gave Cloudland a 60-56 lead with 1:42 to play.
The Cloudland defense rose to the occasion on the game’s final series as they forced a long fourth down at midfield after a sack. The fourth down pass attempt – which was flagged for being across the line of scrimmage – was unsuccessful as the ‘Landers started the celebration.
Arnett finished the game with 41 carries for 405 yards to lead the Cloudland offense – and also surpassed 2,000 yards for the season in the game. Blair finished with 98 yards on 13 carries, while Benfield added 35 yards to the Cloudland cause in addition to 77 yards passing.
Pace had 357 yards passing while going 14-of-29 for Harriman.