'Landers cruise to 47-0 win

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff
tbrown@starhq.com

   Despite lacking the services of quarterback Mark Byrd and head coach Mike Lunsford, the Cloudland Highlanders easily defeated the Cosby Eagles 47-0 in a Region 1-A tilt at Orr Field on Friday night.
   In a contest marked by big plays and defensive lapses, the Highlanders took the opportunity to polish up the rest of the football team, with exciting results.
   Offensive coordinator and acting head coach Gary Keith was content with his troops' performance.
   "I was pleased with the way we played," Keith said. "We ran the quad set well."
   With plenty of offense on tap, Keith's main problem was getting kids into the game for reps.
   "I was trying to get everybody some carries," Keith said. "In some ways this game was tougher than Cherokee."
   The game started off on a positive note for Cosby (0-2, 1-4), as it took the opening kickoff and managed a couple of first downs before turning it over on downs.
   Cloudland (2-0, 5-0) set up shop at midfield looking to drive for the go-ahead score. It only took one play.
   On Cloudland's first play from scrimmage, tailback Dakota Benfield took the ball up the middle and danced 50 yards to the house. The touchdown gave the 'Landers the lead, and they would not look back.
   After a Cosby punt, the Highlanders continued the offensive assault. On the first play of the second drive, déjà vu struck again.
   The handoff was again to Benfield, only this time he covered 71 yards en route to paydirt.
   Cosby would threaten on the following drive, thanks to a 60-yard romp down the left side from tailback Matt McGaha that put Cosby in business inside the 'Lander 20-yard line.
   The drive stalled, however, and Cloudland took over and drove to the Cosby 20. Then re-enter Benfield.
   On his third carry of the game, Benfield took it the distance. His third touchdown gave him a total of 141 yards rushing and 3 TDs on a scant three touches.
   Derrick Birchfield also put up impressive numbers. His resume boasted 137 yards on a mere six rushes.
   All told the Cloudland offense featured a total of 11 ballcarriers, who amassed a 411 yards of rushing. Impressive to say the least.
   Falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter, Cosby still found mediocre success of offense.
   Taking over on its own 24, the Eagles marched all the way to the Cloudland 4 before running out of steam. Cosby would not mount another serious threat.
   Before halftime, Birchfield added a pair of touchdowns. By the time Tryphena Denton was crowned homecoming queen, the 'Landers had secured a 33-0 lead.
   The second half showcased the remainder of the 'Lander offense, as Keith delved into the rest of the Highlander depth chart.
   With another conference victory in the bucket, now the Highlanders will turn their attention to 2-A opponent South Greene, in a contest that promises fireworks.
   Last season's matchup with the Rebels took the 'Landers to the limit. This year's matchup may not be as difficult, but Coach Larry Ricker's troops will no doubt be ready for the 'Lander attack.
   Keith will spend this week of preparation priming the weapons to take on the road next Friday.
   "South Greene is a very well-coached football team," Keith said "We are going to have to play better defense."
   With continued improvement on Roan Mountain, the 'Landers will have some surprises up their sleeves when the playoffs arrive.