Cloudland fired a warning shot early, and it turned out to be the deciding factor over a squad of Vikings.
Zac Benfield broke free for a 54-yard touchdown run on the game’s first drive, and that proved to be winning score as Cloudland defeated border rival Avery County (N.C.) 6-0 at MacDonald Stadium in Newland.
The game was delayed for 45 minutes due to lighting and heavy rain in the third quarter.
After Benfield broke free for his scored, the Cloudland defense stopped an Avery drive at the Cloudland 25. The ‘Landers got within striking distance midway through the second quarter, but a costly fumble ended the drive.
However, Cameron Stevens repaid the favor as he recovered an Avery fumble at the six-yard line to keep the Vikings off the board and send Cloudland to the locker room up 6-0 at the half.
In the second half, neither team was able to get anything going on limited chances. The fourth quarter saw the ‘Landers control the ball most of the quarter with a pair of lengthy drives, while the defense kept the Avery air attack grounded. Cloudland regained possession with 4:27 to play, and never relinquished control of the ball until the final horn.
In the past two meetings, the Highlanders have yet to allow a single offensive point by the Vikings.
Austin Whitehead led the ‘Landers on the ground as he ran for 128 yards on 27 carries, while Benfield finished the night with 66 yards on seven carries. Whitehead was a perfect 4-for-4 passing for 56 yards, and Noah Arnett caught two passes for 31 yards.
Austin Simerly and Colby Birchfield had seven and five tackles, respectively, to pace the Cloudland defense.
“It is always good to get a win. It was sloppy. We had a lot of penaliteis and they had a lot of penalties. We turned the ball over a couple of times. We obviously have a lto of things that we need to correct up front, but when it came down to it on that final drive we got it done. We ran the clock out and got out of here with a win. It reminds me a lot of last year, it was the same type of game – it was really sloppy, we made a lot of mistakes and they made a lot of mistakes- but again we came out of here with the win.”
-Cloudland Head Coach Brock Pittman
“They were running some stuff for us that we weren’t ready for offensively. I think it gave us a chance to make some adjustments – not really change anything but be sure that everyone knew what we were doing. I think it helped us.”
-Pittman on the weather delay
“We’ve been a defensive football team for two years. Shutouts don’t come easy especially against a team like Avery with all that speed. It sets the tone for the season. We will watch the film. Its not going to be as bad as we think it will be and not going to be as good as we think it will be. We will make the corrections and get better for next week.”
-Pittman on containing the Avery offense