'Landers get past Huskies

  By Rebecca Pierson
  Asst. Sports Editor
  rpierson@starhq.com

  ROAN MOUNTAIN -- The Roan Mountain Highlanders put the shut up on their haters last night when they hosted the North Greene Huskies at Orr Field in their first home game and came out with their first victory of the season by an 8-0 final.
  "If this was supposed to be better than tomorrow, I don't want to see tomorrow," Cloudland head coach Gary Keith said about the torrential rains the teams had to play under. "I am happy with the win. It was our first home game. We are going to keep working until we get better." This was also a first career win for Keith as head coach.
  In the pouring rain, the Mountain East Conference teams managed to pull out some good defense but both team's offense had a little trouble hanging on to a slick pigskin. Despite the pending storm and a down season, the Roan Mountain faithful braved the wind and rain and went home with broken up umbrellas, but it was well worth it to see their team finally put a notch into the victory column.
  "I'm a little disappointed," North Greene head coach James Rosenbalm said. "I thought we could move the ball better than that. I thought we could get at least a touchdown or two. I am real disappointed in that."
  In the second quarter, the 'Landers (1-0, 1-3) were deep in the Huskies territory at the 3-yard line when the ball slipped out of quarterback Toby King's hands when Justin Good forced a fumble. The Huskies (0-2, 0-4) lost a yard on their first play when Gary Buchanan tackled runner Dalas Lynch.
  From there, Huskies' quarterback Dusty Neal went in a shotgun formation and the ball slipped out of his hands in the end zone for a Cloudland safety. It was a 2-0 lead going into the second half.
  "It was wet out here and we pitched the ball and it went right through our guys hands," Rosenbalm said. "Basically it is stuff that happens when you play in the rain. Hopefully we will get to practice in a little bit nicer weather and get to where we can pass the ball a little bit more."
  The 'Landers had a slip of the skin in the first play of the second half but the Huskies couldn't reach a first down and gave the ball back on the Cloudland 27.
  Cloudland went on a 13-play run and brought the ball down to the Husky 17.
  B.J. Johnson, after running 47 of the 53 yards in the drive, went on a 17-yard surf through the wet grass for a 'Lander touchdown.
  "I guess we will have to also work on that line a little bit, get some blocking schemes in and give our boys a chance to run the ball a bit more around the edges," Rosenbalm said. "Our defense did a great job. I saw how [Cloudland] did against Sullivan East. They were able to run along East's throws. We were at least able to keep it down to one touchdown. They didn't get the extra point or anything. That I am happy about."
  The absence of junior Jonah Horney harnessed the running play of the 'Landers, but Johnson stepped up and picked up 174 yards rushing in the absence of the team's leading rusher.
  "My linemen, all of them, inspired me tonight," B.J. Johnson said. "It's just Cloudland football, you know. We came out fired up and ready to go. We had to step up with Jonah out and I felt like I had to step up. I am proud of my linemen. That was some good blocking. I couldn't have done it without them."
  The 'Landers' defense was as stellar as it has been all season with sacks from Jonathan 'Possum' Pritchard, Josh Thomas, Jonathan Webb, Jimmy Johnson and Buchanan. The team totaled 45 tackles.
  "We still need to cut down on the mistakes," Keith said. "We have good practices. The kids are there. I couldn't ask for anything more. We are beaten, banged up. Jonah Horney not being here, that hurt. The ones that I had worked hard. We had plenty of yards, we just kept finding ways to shoot ourselves in the foot. But I am proud of them. We won. That's all I can say, we won.
  "I thought the defense played well. Except for one long pass, we pretty much shut them down. That helped. We had good field position in the second half. We just made too many mistakes inside the 10.
  "We should have scored a couple more times. There were other things we could have done but I was afraid to fumble it. The old saying goes that when you get down on the goal line, you have to be careful about running pitches. If I had done that, we would have probably scored more."
  Quarterback Toby King said: "They came up here and thought they could beat us at home but they couldn't. We all worked hard. The line blocked great. We could run all over them all day. B.J. stepped up and ran the ball well."
  North Greene will be playing a county rival in South Greene and the Highlanders will travel to Rogersville to take on Cherokee in another tough non-conference match-up next weekend.
   "Cherokee is going to be hard but hopefully we will come out with another win," King said. "We will just have to play hard and win all of our other conference games."
  "We are going to go at Cherokee screaming," Johnson said. "We are going to be fired up because if we don't we're going to get stomped. We have a good chance of winning it. We just have to come out with our heads on straight."