For the first half, it looked like Cloudland and Happy Valley was going to wage in another instant classic. However, the Highlanders made sure there would be no doubt.
Cloudland put up 32 unanswered points in the second half as they rolled to a 46-14 victory over county rival Unaka on Friday night at Orr Field.
The win improves the ‘Landers to 2-0, while Happy Valley drops to 0-2.
Both teams scored on their opening drives as Austin Whitehead scored from 31 yards out to give Cloudland the early lead, but Phillip Garland answered for Happy Valley with a nine yard touchdown run. Colby Birchfield scored the first of his three touchdowns on the next Cloudland drive with a four yard scamper.
The teams traded fumbles, and Happy Valley capitalized on the CHS turnover as Garland scored late in the second half from five yards.
The ‘Landers missed a shot as they saw a 30-yard field goal attempt go wide as the teams were tied at 14-14 at the half.
After Happy Valley fumbled the ball to open the second half, it was all Cloudland. Whitehead made full use of the possession as he scored from 30 yards. The Happy Valley defense rose to the occasion when Austin Hicks forced a fumble with Cloudland a yard from scoring.
However, Austin Simerly recorded an interception for Cloudland, and Zac Benfield dived into the endzone from two yards out. Birchfield recorded two more touchdowns while Benfield added another score to cap off the night’s scoring.
Birchfield finished the game with 206 yards on 22 carries, while Whitehead had 129 yards. Whitehead was 7-9 passing for 80 yards.
Hicks recorded a solid night for the Warriors as he ran for 91 yards, while Garland had 67 yards in the game.
Both teams open conference play next week as Happy Valley will travel to Sullivan South and Cloudland will host Cosby.
“Give credit to our defense. Coach (John) Julian and the defense stepped up and made some adjustments and we were able to stop them. They have a tough running game. Offensively, we kept doing what we do and getting better and better.”
-Cloudland Head Coach Brock Pittman
“We have the toughest kids in the state of Tennessee right up here on Roan Mountain. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Last year, I felt the same way, and they have just gotten tougher with age.”
-Pittman on the toughness of his kids
“We have weapons and we want to use them. I think we did a great job spreading the ball around early letting them know we have a passing game. When it comes down to it, we are a running football team. The offensive line did a great job, the defense did a great job adjusting. We stopped a good offensive football team.”
-Pittman on the CHS offensive attack and defense
“Cloudland has a very good football team. They have three kids who could play for anybody in East Tennessee. We played a pretty clean first half there and we liked what we were doing. We came out and immediately fumbled the ball deep in our territory and stayed on this end of the field. We helped them out. They are good. They have some talented players and they are a physical football team. Coach Pittman does a great job with them.“
-Happy Valley Head Coach Larry Shivley
“That is not Warrior football for us. There were too many penalties and too many things that is not charatesric of the way we play. We had too many turnovers. In high school football, it comes down to running the football. When the other team knows you are going to run it, you have to be able to get those tough yards and convert. We just didn’t do that tonight.”
-Shively on the difference in the game
“Austin runs the ball extremely hard as those Phillip. I never question our kids work ethic. They play extremely hard. That is one thing that stands out on film. Sometimes we get out matched just a little bit up front, but it is not for the lack of trying. We have super, super kids in our program. I love each and everyone of them. They practice hard and they are good kids in the class room. The ball just didn’t bounce our way tonight.”
-Shivley on the Warriors’ players