It was an absolute battle in Roan Mountain Thursday night.
Cloudland erased a double-digit deficit and powered their way to a hard-fought 40-30 victory over an upset-minded Unaka squad at Orr Field.
With the win, Cloudland won the Region 1-A Championship outright.
The game was delayed for 30 minutes after a power outage knocked out the lights.
Once the game got started, the teams traded possessions as the first quarter ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
Unaka struck first in the second quarter as Brynin Repass scored on a 21-yard touchdown run as the Rangers took a 6-0 lead. After the Ranger defense recovered a Cloudland fumble on the ensuing drive, Unaka added to the lead as Isaiah white caught a 17-yard pass from Repass to take a 14-0 advantage.
The ‘Landers, however, answered quickly as Grayson Cole scored on a 25-yard run to trim the Unaka lead to 14-6 at the break.
Cloudland’s defense set the tone early in the third quarter by stopping Unaka on fourth down. That set up a quick seven-play drive that ended when Cole scored on a 23-yard run and added the two-point conversion to tie things up at 14-14 after the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth battle with a combined 42 points being scored.
The ‘Landers scored first in the final stanza as Bryce Birchfield hit Walker Gouge for a 45-yard score. CHS pushed the lead out as Cole scored on a 31-yard run and the ‘Landers took a 26-14 advantage midway through the quarter.
Unaka didn’t go quietly as Repass scored on a three-yard run, but CHS answered quickly as Cole broke free for a 51-yard run.
Unaka closed the gap once more as Repass found Isaiah White for a 26-yard score, and T.J Thomas added the two-point conversion. That pulled the Rangers within 34-30 heading into the closing minutes.
Cloudland capped the scoring with 50 seconds remaining as Kyle Birchfield scored on a two-yard run.
Unaka quickly moved inside the Cloudland 5 but was unable to get back on the board before time expired.
Cole led Cloudland with 20 carries for 212 yards, while K. Birchfield had 195 yards on 24 carries.
B. Birchfield had 45 passing yards.
For the Rangers, Repass went 17-of-33 for 228 yards, while White had 180 yards on 11 catches.
Greenless had 50 yards rushing on eight carries.
Both squads will open the playoffs next Friday night. The ‘Landers will host Greenback as the Region 1-A No. 1 seed, while Unaka will travel to Coalfield as the Region 1-A No. 4 seed.
For more photos, click here.