In the battle of the Highlanders, Cloudland had looked to come out on top for the second consecutive season. However, Gatlinburg-Pittman had another idea.
Cloudland dropped a tough 20-8 decision to GP in Gatlinburg on Friday in the 2018 season opener. The ‘Landers had won last season’s meeting in overtime.
On Friday night, Gatlinburg-Pittman set the tone early as they used an eight-play drive to take a 7-0 lead on a Bryce Akey touchdown from five yards out.
Cloudland used the legs of Jordan Coffey and Josh Blair to go on a lengthy drive of their own, but CHS was stopped on fourth and goal from the one in the closing seconds of the first quarter.
On the ensuing possession, the Cloudland defense held strong as they forced GP off the field in three plays and then watched the punt go over the punters head as CHS received the safety.
Blair capped off the next drive for Cloudland with a four-yard touchdown as the ‘Landers took an 8-7 advantage.
GP answered on their next drive as Pierce Hammonds capped off a three-minute drive with a five-yard touchdown scamper.
After Cloudland was forced to punt on the next drive, Gatlinburg-Pittman got a little luck of the Irish on their side. A JD Shults pass looked destined to be intercepted by a Cloudland defender, but was tipped in the air where it fell perfectly into the receivers hand. That big play – which was stopped short on the goal line after Triston Lacy chased the play down – set GP up deep in CHS territory with 30 seconds remaining where they added another touchdown to take a 20-8 lead going to the half.
In the second half, neither team was able to get anything going as the teams traded possessions. Cloudland was able to force a pair of turnovers – recovering a punt after it hit a GP gunner as well as a Dillion Johnson fumble recovery – that set them up in prime position. However, GP’s defense didn’t bend as CHS was unable to break into the end zone.
Coffey finished the night with 42 yards on 17 carries, while Malachi Benfield added 29 yards on nine carries. Through the air, Benfield was 8-of-19 for 157 yards. Lacy had four catches for 58 yards.
Cloudland is set to hit the road next week with a trip to North Greene.
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