In a crucial Region 1-A clash, Cloudland had the answer.
The ‘Landers turned to an unrelenting ground game and took a 54-22 victory over Unaka on Stoney Creek on Friday night.
The win improves Cloudland to 2-0 on the year both overall and in region play, while Unaka moves to 1-1 in both on the young season.
The first quarter was all Cloudland.
The ‘Landers took the opening kickoff and ran down the field as Caleb Sluder capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run. Seth Birchfield added the two-point conversion to give Cloudland the early 8-0 lead.
The CHS defense rose to the occasion on their first series of the game forcing Unaka to a three-and-out. On the ensuing punt, a low snap and fumble was picked up by Birchfield – who scored from six yards out for the scoop and score and then added the two-point conversion.
The teams traded quick possessions as Cloudland forced a punt and Unaka recovered a CHS fumble. After Unaka was stopped on fourth down, Cloudland used an 11-play drive capped by a short Birchfield run to take a 22-0 lead into the second quarter.
The Rangers struck quickly to open the second stanza as Devin Ramsey caught a 36-yard pass from Landon Ramsey. Jamol Blamo scored the two-point conversion to close the CHS lead to 22-8 early in the second.
Birchfield, however, answered in a resounding way for Cloudland as he scored on a 45-yard touchdown run. CHS added to the lead quarter as Camden Peppers found Gage McKinney for a 25-yard touchdown strike.
The final score of the half came when Sluder escaped for a 58-yard touchdown and Auston Caraway added the two-point conversion as Cloudland held a 46-8 advantage.
The Rangers’ offense struck in the third quarter as L. Ramsey hit Caleb Lydick (51 yards) and Isiah White (21 yards) for touchdown passes to trim the Cloudland lead.
The ‘Landers, however, added a score in the fourth with a Kyle Birchfield touchdown from nine yards out, and Kingston Cole added the two-point conversion.
Sluder led the way for Cloudland with 13 carries for 132 yards, while S. Birchfield added 11 carries for 129 yards.
K. Birchfield made the most of his opportunity as he had 12 carries for 79 yards.
As a team, Cloudland ended the night with 410 rushing yards.
Unaka saw Blamo lead the way with nine carries for 31 yards. JT Thomas added four carries for 29 yards.
L. Ramsey ended the night 9-of-20 passing for 163 yards. Lydick had 61 receiving yards, while D. Ramsey added 51.
The ‘Landers are slated to travel to Rockwood next Friday night in a game that was added prior to the season to replace the Hancock County game.
Unaka is set to have a bye week and is slated to return to action on Sept. 10 when Twin Springs (Va.) visits Stoney Creek.
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