Highlanders pound South Greene, 48-6

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff

   The Cloudland Highlanders took another big step toward the postseason Friday night as they defeated the South Greene Rebels by a score of 48-6.
   The impressive display was the result of a total team effort in which the defense and the running game reigned supreme. To say the least, the performance was dominant.
   Compiling over 516 rushing yards and preventing an offensive touchdown, the 'Landers' only fault fell in the special teams, allowing an 85-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.
   That aside, the Highlanders displayed talent deserving of a No. 1 rating. With star Mark Byrd sidelined with an injury, the 'Landers still hit on all cylinders on the road.
   It took some time for the 'Lander offense to come online, however, as the first quarter offered up a slow start despite scoring on the opening drive.
   After marching 68 yards on the first drive until Dakota Benfield punched it in from four yards out. The score put Cloudland in the lead 6-0.
   Then the South Greene defense flashed some speed. After stalling on offense themselves, the Rebels managed to stop the Highlanders on the next two offensive possessions.
   After snuffing out a fake punt, and stopping the 'Landers on a big third down deep in Cloudland territory, it appeared as if the game may become a close one. That was not to be, however.
   The second quarter was the beginning of the end for the Rebels. Another score from Benfield, and a 65-yard touchdown scamper by Dustin Sluder put the 'Landers in firm command with a 22-0 halftime lead.
   Cloudland skipper Mike Lunsford was pleased with the performance, as his team took their play to yet another level.
   "They were a tough football team," Lunsford said, "but these kids did what it takes to win. We blew some opportunities early in the game, but our defense played great tonight."
   The second half saw the 'Landers consolidate their success in the first half with a healthy dose of running in the second half. Benfield surpassed the 200-yard mark for the game and the second-string backfield received some work as well.
   After Mark Barnett took it in from three yards out to start the half. The 'Landers surrendered the kicking mistake to Ryan Ward, which resulted in the Rebels' only points of the evening.
   The fourth quarter was all 'Landers, who added touchdown runs of 2, 42 and 10 yards to push the deficit to 42 points. On the evening the Highlanders amassed 547 total yards.
   Defensively, Barnett, along with Dane Christman, registered some big hits to stop the Rebel offense.
   After the contest, Lunsford handed out some praise to his blockers for a job well done
   "Mark Barnett, Jason Birchfield, Nathaniel Baker and Brandon Hughes played exceptional tonight," Lunsford said. "Those kids stepped it up. Our blocking backs just played great."
   With conference contests still on the horizon, and a rematch with Hampton still remaining, the Highlanders still have time to impress as the postseason approaches.