Despite a hard-fought effort and a ton of heart, Cloudland came up short on Friday night.
The ‘Lander football team dropped a 30-22 decision to South Pittsburg in the Class A Semifinal. South Pitt scored 16 points in the second quarter and held on after Cloudland crossed midfield with under two minutes to play.
After the teams settled down, Cloudland had the upper hand early on.
Both teams had fumbles on the respective opening possessions, Cloudland got things going on their second drive.
With the offensive line paving the way, the ‘Landers took a 6-0 lead after Caleb Sluder scored on a five-yard run. The scoring play was the 13th play of the drive.
South Pitt looked to tie things up on the scoreboard, but the ‘Lander defense forced a field goal attempt – which saw the snap sail over the holder’s head.
Four plays later, Sluder broke free for a 65-yard run for a touchdown. Seth Birchfield added the two-point conversion.
Both teams forced stops, and the Pirates were able to break onto the scoreboard as Richard Hunter hit Reginald Hunter for a 28-yard touchdown.
Cloudland maintained a 14-7 lead at the break.
South Pittsburg came out of the locker room quickly to open the third quarter.
The Pirates saw Class A Mr. Football Finalist De’Andre Kelly score from 14 yards out and the made extra point tied things up at 14-14.
Cloudland, however, answered the challenge with a gritty drive.
Birchfield capped off an impressive drive with a three-yard touchdown and then added the two-point conversion as Cloudland took a 30-14 lead.
Cayden Cordell recovered a South Pitt fumble on the ensuing drive, and the ‘Landers marched back into South Pitt territory.
The drive, however, stalled at the Pirate 5 early in the fourth quarter.
South Pitt went 95 yards on the next drive and scored as Kelly caught a 35-yard pass for a score from Hunter.
A fumble on the ensuing kick gave the Pirates the ball at midfield, Racash Tipton scored on a 40-yard pass from Hunter to take the lead.
The ‘Landers battled as they moved the ball to midfield, but were unable to extend the drive and get in striking distance.
Sluder finished the night with 28 carries for 180 yards, while Birchfield had 177 yards on 37 attempts.
Kelly had 65 rushing yards on 12 runs, and added 61 yards receiving to his tally.
Cloudland finished the season with a 12-1 mark.
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