Cloudland falls to Boyd-Buchanan

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff
tbrown@starhq.com

   CHATTANOOGA -- The road to Murfreesboro was cut short Friday night for the Cloudland Highlanders as they were defeated by the Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers by a final score of 39-8.
   Despite a solid first half for Cloudland (13-1), the onslaught was simply to much as the third quarter spelled the end of the postseason run. Twenty unanswered points right out of the locker room was to much to handle.
   Cloudland took the opening kickoff and lasted 10 plays before being forced to punt. Head coach Mike Lunsford and his staff had hoped to keep the ball away from the potent Boyd-Buchanan offense, and in the first half they were successful.
   The Bucs first drive took the ball 10 plays as well before a missed 42-yard field goal gave Cloudland the ball on the Highlander 25-yard line.
   Unfortunately the 'Landers' second offensive effort was not as lucrative. Three-and-out gave the Bucs solid field position and they would capitalize.
   Boyd-Buchanan (13-1) drove the ball to the one-yard line before quarterback Will Helay took the sneak in for the touchdown, a key missed extra point would give Boyd-Buchanan the early 6-0 lead.
   Cloudland would answer with an impressive drive which utilized quarterback Mark Byrd at the tailback position. The strategy worked to perfection as Cloudland took control with a 13 plays for 79 yards.
   The touchdown came on a broken pass play, as Byrd scampered while buying time with his quickness. He eluded the sack an found a crossing Cole Gouge in the end zone for the touchdown. Byrd took the two point conversion in to take the 8-6 lead.
   With momentum firmly with the 'Landers, the Bucs produced an answer of their own. Six plays after taking possession, Helay hit receiver Drew Akins in the end zone. The catch was the first of two circus touchdown catches for Akins.
   Yet another failed conversion attempt would leave the halftime score at 12-8, Cloudland still firmly in the game.
   The first three offensive series for Boyd-Buchanan resulted in touchdowns while Cloudland could not recapture the success of the first half. For the first time in recent memory, the 'Landers were outgained on the ground, as the Bucs garnered 12 yards more than the 'Landers on half the carries.
   All told, the Bucs scored five unanswered touchdowns after the lone Cloudland score, in a contest which the effort was not shown on the scoreboard.
   Football is a game of inches, and the 'Landers were just an inch late on too many plays, but the effort they displayed was not displayed in the final score.
   After the contest Lunsford was not disappointed in his team.
   "They had so many athletes," Lunsford said. "When they started sacking Byrd we knew we were in trouble."
   Lunsford had much praise for his senior class as they competed in their last football game for Cloudland High School.
   "These kids are a great bunch of young men," Lunsford said. "This group has been to the finals last year, and the semifinals this season, they are a special group."