Jackets stung by 'Landers

By Travis Brown

STAR Sports

   The Cloudland Highlanders started off their quest for the Clinic Bowl with an impressive 30-0 victory Friday night, taking the sting out of the Coalfield Yellow Jackets at Orr Field.
   Although quarterback Mark Byrd and his offense looked impressive, the 'Landers showcased the defense by holding the Jackets to a scant 47 yards offensively.
   Head coach Mike Lunsford was very pleased with his defensive unit.
   "We controlled them from tackle to tackle," said Lunsford. "Our defense played real well."
   Brandon Odom, Mark Barnett, Dane Christman and Keith Buchanan held down the fort all evening for Cloudland (10-1), preventing any significant drives and stuffing the running game for less than a yard per carry.
   While the 'Lander defense was forcing punts, the offense was busy scoring touchdowns on their first three drives. Taking the opening kickoff, Cloudland showcased just how good that offensive line can be.
   Pacing the 'Lander backfield the O-line dominated the line of scrimmage and sustained an 11-play drive, capped off by Derrick Birchfield's 13-yard scoring scamper. Byrd's two-point conversion gave the 'Landers an 8-0 lead four minutes into the game.
   After the Yellow Jackets (5-6) turned it over on downs, Cloudland proceeded to march down the field once more. Byrd capped off a 9-play drive with a 15-yard burst, and pitched the two-point conversion to Odom over the middle to go up 16-0.
   Benfield would add a 1-yard touchdown midway through the second period to put the 'Landers in comfortable command 22-0.
   After the contest Byrd had some praise and admiration for his boys in the trenches.
   "They worked hard all night," said Byrd. "They just blasted holes open all night."
   The second half saw conservative play from the 'Landers, as they settled in and made some substitutions. Byrd still had something left for the highlight reel three minutes into the third period.
   Byrd took the ball 27 yards to the end zone on the first play of the drive to seal the deal for Cloudland. Benfield added the two points, and Cloudland would cruise to an easy win.
   Although playing well on both sides of the football, Lunsford is hoping to eliminate excessive penalties before next week.
   "We played hard, but we made some mistakes with penalties," said Lunsford. "We have to keep striving to play mistake-free football. We will never be perfect, but we have to work towards perfection."
   Next week will bring Greenback calling on the 'Landers, and Cloudland appears to be hitting on all cylinders. With the defense looking in top shape, and Highlander backs hitting the holes with authority, the road to Murfeesboro may very well lead through Roan Mountain.
   The Elizabethton STAR expresses it's condolences as Friday's game was dedicated to the memory of Meloney S. Bowers. Our prayers are with you in this time of trial.