Cloudland showed some signs of travel fatigue in the opening minutes. However, the ‘Landers made sure it wasn’t a lasting effect.
Cloudland steamrolled Hancock County in region play to take a 42-14 victory on Friday night in Sneedville. The win moves the Highlanders to 8-1 on the season, and sets the stage for a championship tilt on Thursday night against Hampton.
The Indians took advantage of the kickoff as Jacob Baker broke free for a 43-yard touchdown to give Hancock County an early 6-0 lead. After a Cloudland turnover, the ‘Landers defense rose to the occasion as they stopped the Indians on fourth down.
Cloudland evened the score at 6-6 with just over seven minutes to play in the first as Colby Birchfield broke free for a 23-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing drive, the Cloudland defense recorded another fourth down stop at midfield, and Austin Whitehead gave Cloudland their first lead of the game with a one-yard touchdown. Birchfield’s run on the two-point conversion pushed the lead to 14-6.
Whitehead struck again in the final minute of the quarter as he broke free for a 63-yard touchdown run. The Dylen Markland extra point gave Cloudland a 21-6 lead heading into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Hez Street recovered a Hancock County fumble, which set up a lengthy drive that was capped off by an 11-yard touchdown run by Birchfield.
The Indians drove the ball inside the Cloudland 10 on their next drive, and scored with nine ticks left on the clock on a nine-yard pass to cut the Cloudland lead to 28-14 at the half.
On the opening drive of the second half for the ‘Landers, Birchfield struck with a five-yard touchdown run, and Whitehead found Noah Arnett for a 27-yard touchdown pass to cap off the scoring.
Cloudland will travel to Hampton on Thursday.