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Originally published: 2012-11-08 11:35:28
Last modified: 2012-11-08 11:35:28

‘Landers advance past Midway

Matt Laws / (matt.laws@averyjournal.com)

Mother Nature did her best to stack the odds against Cloudland in the first round of the TSSAA playoffs. However, the ‘Landers made the best of it. 

The ‘Landers ran to a 28-12 victory over the Midway Green Wave in the first round of the TSSAA 1-A playoffs on Saturday, Nov. 3. The game was delayed a day due to the snow that hit the area earlier in the week. For the Highlanders, the snow didn’t just delay the game, but affected its practices all week.

“We didn’t get in a whole lot of practice this week,” Head Coach Brock Pittman said. “Imagine if a basketball team had to go outside on a football field to practice. We just couldn’t get a whole lot done inside, but I’m very proud of how our kids came out and played.”

After the first quarter saw neither team able to score, Midway was the first to strike. The Green Wave took an early lead when Shandon Lyle hit Zack Qualls for a 60-yard touchdown in the opening minutes of the frame.

Cloudland responded on the ensuing kickoff, as Colby Birchfield broke free and returned the ball 65 yards to the Midway two-yard line. From there, Taylor Whitehead, who missed last week’s regular season finale against Hampton, took advantage of the field position as he scored with 8:48 left in the half. Neither team could put any more points on the board in the half as they went into the locker room tied at 6-6 at the break.

In the second half, the Cloudland offense controlled the game, but was limited in its scoring chances. After missing a 27-yard field goal, the ‘Landers took the lead with four seconds left in the quarter when Jeffery Rhinehart hit Austin Whitehead for a 30-yard touchdown pass. The score was set up by an Anthony Lacy interception.

Birchfield extended the Cloudland lead to 20-6 early in the fourth when he broke free for a 62-yard touchdown run. Midway closed the gap to eight points with five minutes left, but the CHS defense held the Green Wave offense in check the rest of the game. Rhinehart sealed the deal with a 20-yard run with 2:01 left in the game to send the ‘Landers to the second round.

T. Whitehead led the way with 130 yards on 20 carries, while Birchfield recorded 75 yards on seven carries. Rhinehart had 12 carries for 54 yards.

Defensively, Mason Carnett tallied 18 tackles and Devin Whitehead had 10 tackles.

Cloudland will travel to Coalfield for the second round of the TSSAA playoffs. The Yellow Jackets received a bye in the first round, and defeated Cloudland earlier in the season 35-0 at Coalfield.Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.