Pats sting 'Landers


Assistant Sports Editor


  BLUFF CITY--The Cloudland Highlanders went on the field Thursday night knowing that they would have a fight on their hands. They didn't realize that the Sullivan East Patriots would be out for blood with a 42-8 final.
  The game started off well for the 'Landers as Wes Spurgeon of East fumbled the ball on the opening kickoff and Jordan Buck recovered it, but the game would slowly slide downhill after that.
  "Too much quickness," Cloudland head coach Gary Keith said. "I was telling the kids that in the past Mark Byrd had probably saved us 30 touchdowns, maybe more than that, because of his quickness. They just had so much quickness we couldn't tackle them but I was very proud of them. They didn't give up."
  Josh Tester would put the first marks on the board for the Patriots with a third and goal on a 41-yard drive.
  Jordan Buck would receive on the next play and run up the middle for a 26-yard return to the 'Landers 36. Nine plays later they were on the East 33-yard line when B.J. Johnson fumbled and Matt Eads recovered. East would score again after a nine-play drive early in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead.
  "We improved from last week and that's what I asked them to do," Keith said. "I didn't think East could run the ball up the middle. That is my fault. I wanted to take away their long passes and make them throw underneath, and we did that. Nidiffer and Eads were just too quick."
  The 'Landers had a tough go driving the ball against outstanding tackles by Wayne Smith, Charlie Smith and Keith Hughes. Injuries also started piling up before the half, with starters, including stating quarterback Toby King, being subbed by green freshmen.
  Cloudland came back from the half with the ball, but three plays later Jonah Horney fumbled on the 'Landers own 42, and East scored again on two passing plays for a 20-0 lead.
  Cloudland came back from its 37 to East's 16-yard line, only to have a pass from King to Nick Winchester broken up by Hunter Crowder on fourth-and-10.
  East brought it back to the 36 and fumbled. Horney picked up the fumble and went down into the end zone, only to have to come back and start over when they received a clipping penalty.
  Horney made his way back into the end zone in fourth quarter, and a successful King to Winchester pass brought the score to 20-8.
  East found the end zone three more times before the time clock finally said zero. The 'Landers had all the beating they could handle, with many starters and secondaries limping off the field and back into the locker rooms.
   "We thought they were going to be a lot easier," Cloudland quarterback King said. "We have got to tackle better. We can stop most anything, but we have got to learn how to tackle."
  Eads was unstoppable on offense, going 12-of-15 in the air with no interceptions and 137 yards total. He also rushed for 104 yards on 15 attempts, and Michael Nidiffer went 6 for 162.
   Horney and Jonathan "Possum" Pritchard led the defense with seven and six tackles, respectively, and they each had an assist. Horney led the rushing yards 96 on 26 tries, and Johnson finished 11-49.
  "This isn't what we expected at all," Horney said. "We knew they were going to be tough but not that tough. They played hard every quarter. This week I think we will need to work on stopping them up the middle and the deep ball. I think we have the ends pretty good, and our running game on offense is great."
   "We are going to try and improve on our blocking," Keith said. "These kids are young and inexperienced. We drove the ball and drove the ball and made mental errors. Instead of being third and two, it would be third and 10. Mistakes come from inexperience.
  "We are just going to have to keep working in practice and cut down on the mistakes. We are the walking wounded. These injuries are giving us some experience at depth."
  Said East head coach Ralph Nelson: "Cloudland always plays physical, physical football. You are always going to see the best of what they can do when you play them. I know they lost a lot to their graduating class and are going through a rebuilding process.
  "Coach Keith is doing a great job. He has got to keep them pulled together and he is doing a fine job at that. I love to play him because of the class he has. Their whole football program is a classy program."
   "You know, I have been on the other side of this three or four times and it's not fun," Nelson said. "We have got to pull it together and eliminate a lot of the penalties we had. We are a long way from where we need to be but we are getting there. Matt Eads had a heck of a night tonight and that does not surprise me. That is the type of player he is."