Five turnovers proved to be too costly.
Cloudland fell victim to five turnovers on Friday night as they fell 38-28 to Coalfield in the Class A playoffs in the second round at a frigid Orr Field in Roan Mountain. The loss ends the ‘Landers season at 8-3.
After forcing a Coalfield punt on the game’s opening drive, the ‘Landers were unable to get anything going on their first possession of the night. Coalfield took advantage of good field position as they embarked on an eight-play drive that was capped off when Tyler Keathley caught a five-yard pass from Parker McKinney. Peyton Tinker converted the two-point conversion to give the Yellow Jackets an 8-0 lead. Coalfield extended their lead to 16-0 after Addison Bible scored from four yards out to close out the first quarter.
The ‘Landers were unable to get anything going on their next drive, and the Yellow Jackets took a 24-0 lead when Bible caught a 57-yard pass from McKinney three minutes into the frame.
Austin Whitehead got the Cloudland offense cranking on the next CHS possession as he scored on a five-yard run and then added the two-point conversion. The Cloudland defense recorded an interception on the next Coalfield drive, and then Noah Arnett caught a Whitehead pass for a 14-yard touchdown. Whitehead’s run cut the lead to 24-16 with just over two minutes to play in the half.
However, Coalfield wasn’t done as they went 38 yards on eight plays, and Cameron Godwin caught an eight-yard pass from McKinney to give Coalfield a 30-16 lead heading into the locker room at the break.
In the third quarter, Cloudland saw their opening drive end on an interception. However, the defense held strong to keep Coalfield out of the endzone. Neither team could get back on the board until Colby Birchfield powered his way in from 19-yards as Cloudland trimmed the lead back to eight points.
However, Coalfield’s Drake Mikles picked up the ensuing kickoff and raced 63-yards for the score and McKinney hit Jacob Coker for the two-point conversion. The ‘Landers went 70 yards on their next drive that was capped off by an eight-yard touchdown run by Whitehead, but the conversion try failed as CHS went into the fourth quarter trailing 38-28.
The ‘Landers moved into Coalfield territory a couple of times in the final stanza, but they were unable to close the gap any further before the final horn sounded.
Austin Whitehead had 152 yards on 21 carries, while Birchfield had 79 yards on seven attempts. Whitehead finished 7-of-21 for 142 yards, four interceptions and a touchdown.
Senior Zac Benfield had 14 carries for 72 yards.
Coalfield was paced by Bible as he rushed for 121 yards on 22 carries. McKinney went 13-of-31 passing for 178 yards and three touchdowns.
As a team, the Highlanders had five turnovers compared to just one for the Yellow Jackets. Cloudland held a 445-301 edge in total offensive yards.
“When you play good teams, it is the same story for us. Mistakes, turnovers and missed opportunities which we had quite a few of those. You can’t win playoff games doing that.
“I am proud of the way we kept going and got back into the game. We made it a one-score game, and the kickoff return really hurt. We would get the momentum back then we would lose it, we would get it back then we would lose it. It is the turnovers, mistakes and missed opportunities you can’t win playoff games doing that.”
“I am proud of our kids. We had a great year. We did a lot of things a lot people didn’t expect. We have a great group of seniors and we are going to really miss them. They won’t remember the bad things, they will the good things. We had tons of good things that happen for us this season. It has been a great season.”
-Cloudland Head Coach Brock Pittman