Birchfield powers Cloudland past Avery

It wasn’t the prettiest game. However, Cloudland will take the result.

Colby Birchfield and the ‘Landers jumped out early and then held on to take a 36-29 over neighboring Avery County (N.C.) on Friday night at Orr Field. Cloudland moves to 3-1 on the season.

Birchfield tallied four touchdowns for the ‘Landers to set the ton for the win.

Cloudland took the opening kick, and quickly moved down the field as Birchfield ended the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. After the ‘Landers held the Vikings to a three-and-out, Austin Whitehead capped off a 10-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run that gave CHS a 16-0 lead with three minutes to play in the first.

On the ensuing drive, Avery answered with a 1-yard run by Luke Crowe on a third and goal to close the Cloudland lead to 16-6 at the end of the first quarter.

The teams held serve until Avery found the endzone again with 4:35 to play in the half as Crowe hit Brett Smith for a 24-yard touchdown pass to pull within two points.

However, Birchfield answered for the ‘Landers as he extended the lead to 22-14 at the half with a four-yard run.

Avery opened the scoring in the second half with a 23-yard field goal to cap off a  drive that nearly took five minutes. A wild three minutes to cap the third quarter included a fumble, interception and a four-yard touchdown by Birchfield as CHS took an 11-point lead. However, the Vikings got in the act with the second touchdown in the final six seconds of the quarter as Levi McIntosh caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Crowe as Cloudland took a 28-23 lead into the final quarter.

After Cloudland was stopped a fourth down, Avery had a 75-yard touchdown reception called back due to a penalty and fumbled the ball on the next play. Birchfield capped off an eight-play drive with a six-yard TD to push the CHS lead to 36-23.

Avery closed the lead as Crowe hit Chandler Stansberry for a 67-yard score with 2:03 to play. Cloudland, however, iced the win on the ground to move to 3-1.

Birchfield led all rushers with 208 yards on 28 carries, while Austin Whitehead tallied 177 yards on 22 carries.

Whitehead went 3-of-6 passing in the game, while Noah Arnett added 15 yards on the ground.

Crowe finished the game 19-of-31 with 370 yards passing and added 53 yards on eight carries. CameronSmith had 15 yards on seven carries.

Cloudland outrushed Avery 395-82, while Avery held a 370-21 advantage through the air.

The ‘Landers return to action next Friday as they host Concord Christian for homecoming. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., at Orr Field.

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