In an offensive duel, Cloudland held the upper hand Friday night.
The ‘Landers used a big game from Gage McKinney to take a 54-44 victory over Johnson County in nonconference action.
McKinney finished the night with 401 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while the senior also added a passing touchdown to the mix.
The Cloudland defense started strong as Auston Caraway recovered a botched Johnson County snap on the first play of the game. The ‘Lander offense took full advantage as McKinney scored his first touchdown of the night seven plays later on a six-yard run.
After the CHS defense forced a three-and-out, McKinney raced past the Longhorn defense for a 54-yard touchdown to push the lead to 16-0.
The Cloudland defense continued to hamper the Longhorn offense in the opening quarter. Kyle Birchfield got in the scoring act in the final minute of the quarter as the junior scored on a 38-yard run to give CHS a 22-0 lead after a quarter of play.
Johnson County got on the board in the second as Jace Stout caught a Connor Simcox 13-yard touchdown pass, but Cloudland responded as McKinney went into the Wildcat formation and found Cayden Clarke for a 15-yard touchdown.
C. Simcox led Johnson County on a quick drive that was capped when he found Ethan Simcox for a short touchdown.
Cloudland looked to answer in the closing seconds, but a Johnson County interception was held intact after a pass interference flag in the endzone was picked up after the officials ruled the pass was tipped.
Cloudland led 30-14 at the half.
It continued to be a battle in the second half.
The ‘Landers took the opening drive of the second half and methodically moved down the field. After taking almost six minutes off the clock, McKinney scored on a one-yard run.
Johnson County answered quickly as C. Simcox connected with E. Simcox for a 44-yard touchdown.
CHS extended the lead late in the quarter as McKinney scored on another short run.
That sent Cloudland into the fourth quarter with a 46-22 lead.
Stout and C. Simcox opened the fourth quarter scoring with a 21-yard touchdown, and the Longhorn defense held Cloudland on fourth down to set up another C. Simcox and E. Simcox touchdown to close the gap to eight points with 3:39 left.
Cloudland extended the lead in the final minute as McKinney raced 49 yards for the score, but Johnson County added another Simcox pass in the closing seconds to account for the final score.
Kyle Birchfield added 71 yards on the ground for Cloudland, while Bryce Birchfield was 6-of-7 passing for 67 yards.
C. Simcox had 21-of-29 passing for 369 yards for the Longhorns with six touchdowns. E. Simcox added 152 receiving yards on six catches, while Stourt ended the night with five catches for 123 yards.
Cloudland is set to host North Greene next Friday night to close out the regular season. With a win, the ‘Landers will claim the Region 1-A title.
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