A truly incredible rally had to be honored.
Cloudland football’s 26-point rally against Harriman in the first round of the TSSAA Playoffs has been named the Best of Carter County Sports Comeback of the Year.
The ‘Landers saw the Blue Devils increase the lead to 44-18 with 11:43 remaining in the third. What ensued afterward was Cloudland magic.
After the teams traded possessions, Malachi Benfield scored on a 1-yard run to get Cloudland back on the board. The ‘Lander defense forced Harriman off the field with a three and out.
Noah Arnett showed off his speed on the punt as he ran through the Blue Devil coverage for a 72-yard touchdown. That closed Cloudland within 44-30 with 1:05 left in the third.
The ensuing kickoff saw CHS’ Ethan Cable jump on an onside kick, and Arnett scored on a 40-yard run on the drive’s first play. The senior added the conversion as Cloudland trailed 44-38 entering the final 12 minutes.
Benfield opened the final quarter with a 13-yard touchdown that tied the game at 44-44 with just over eight minutes left on the clock. Harriman struck again on the next drive for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Sophomore Josh Blair, however, answered for Cloudland as he capped off a quick drive with a 13-yard touchdown. Blair also added the conversion that gave the ‘Landers a 52-50 lead with 5:52 to play.
Less than a minute later, Harriman went back in front as Brandon Emily caught a 28-yard pass for the score. The conversion was unsuccessful as the Blue Devils held a slim 56-52 lead with 4:25 to play.
Cloudland, however, wouldn’t be deterred.
The ‘Landers regained the lead with 1:42 to play after Arnett escaped down the left side on a fourth down and arrived in the end zone 45 yards later. Blair added the conversion that gave Cloudland a 60-56 lead with 1:42 to play.
The Cloudland defense rose to the occasion on the game’s final series as they forced a long fourth down at midfield after a sack. The fourth down pass attempt – which was flagged for being across the line of scrimmage – was unsuccessful as the ‘Landers started the celebration.
Noah Arnett finished the game with 41 carries for 405 yards to lead the Cloudland offense – and also surpassed 2,000 yards for the season in the game. Blair finished with 98 yards on 13 carries, while Benfield added 35 yards to the Cloudland cause in addition to 77 yards passing.