Even though Midway held the momentum, Cloudland wasn’t going to be denied on Friday night.
The ‘Landers held off a rally from Midway to take a 38-33 first-round victory at Orr Field in the Class A playoffs after the Green Wave used back-to-back onside kicks in the fourth quarter to all but erase a CHS lead.
Cloudland advances to host Oliver Springs at Orr Field in the second round next Friday.
It was a heavyweight fight from the opening kick.
Midway struck first as Tucker Basham caught an Emmett Hegland pass for a 10-yard touchdown on the game’s opening drive as MHS took a 7-0 lead. The ‘Landers went to the run game on their opening drive of the night, and Caleb Sluder dived over the scrum at the line of scrimmage to score on a two-yard run.
Bentley Gilbert caught a Chase Shell pass for the two-point conversion to give CHS an 8-7 advantage.
The Green Wave added a touchdown in the closing minutes of the first quarter to take a 14-6 lead into the second stanza.
On the first play of the second quarter, the ‘Landers evened the score. Shell caught Gage McKinney for a 21-yard pass that allowed CHS to tie the game up at 14-14. Midway embarked on a 10-play drive but Cloudland held strong on fourth down to force the Green Wave offense off the field.
The teams traded possessions until Seth Birchfield broke free for a 48-yard touchdown run with just under two minutes to play. Birchfield added the two-point conversion to give Cloudland a 22-14 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Midway opened the half with an onside kick recovery, but Bentley Gilbert repaid the favor as he intercepted a pass to regain the momentum. The ‘Landers were unable to sustain the drive, but the ensuing punt rolled inside the Midway 10.
The Cloudland defense provided another spark as senior Eli Preswood broke through the line and sacked Hegland in the endzone to record the safety. The ensuing possession saw Shell and McKinney connect for a 16-yard pass as Cloudland took a 30-14 lead into the final 12 minutes.
In the fourth quarter, things got hectic as a total of 27 points were scored in the quarter.
Midway trimmed the lead with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Hegland to Jackson Snow, but Cloudland quickly answered with a strong drive and four-yard touchdown run by Seth Birchfield as CHS held a 38-20 advantage with 7:32 to play.
The Green Wave moved efficiently on the next drive as Hegland and Coleman Ellison connected for a one-yard touchdown pass. After an onside kick, Snow and Hegland connected again to trim the Cloudland advantage to 38-33 with 3:40 left in the game.
Midway was able to recover their third straight onside kick. However, the Cloudland defense had seen enough as they held steady and preserved the lead.
After a turnover on downs, the ‘Landers secured the win with a first down.
Birchfield finished with 20 carries for 126 yards, while Sluder had 17 carries for 81 yards. Shell added 133 yards on 7-of-12 passing.
Gage McKinney had 75 receiving yards on three catches. Gilbert tallied three interceptions in the game.
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