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Heartbreak finds Highlanders in second round

Matt Laws • Nov 9, 2018 at 11:44 PM

It looked to be going Cloudland’s way on Friday night. Coalfield, however, wasn’t finished yet.

With Peyton McKinney hitting Isaac Van Whitsonburg for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 23.2 seconds remaining, the Yellow Jackets took a 29-24 victory over the Highlanders in the second round of the Class 2A state football playoffs.

The game was held at Happy Valley after being moved earlier in the week due to field conditions at Cloudland’s Orr Field.

The ‘Landers finished the year with a 9-3 record, while Coalfield (8-4) advances to take on Greenback next week.

BACK AND FORTH FIRST HALF

After Coalfield got on the board with a short touchdown run from Ashton Jones, Cloudland answered quickly as Jordan Coffey recorded a 48-yard touchdown run on the first offensive play of the ensuing series. The senior tailback added a two-point conversion to give the ’Landers an 8-7 lead after a quarter of play.

The second quarter was the same type of quarter. The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 15-8 lead when Seth Lowe caught a McKinney pass and Coalfield added the two-point conversion. Cloudland, however, answered with a strong drive that was capped by Malachi Benfield hitting KJ Arnold for a 7-yard touchdown.

Triston Lacy added the two-point conversion to send CHS into the locker room with a 16-15 lead.

DEFENSE TAKES CONTROL

Quarter No. 3 saw the Highlander defense stifle the Yellow Jackets on the opening drive, setting the tone for the stanza.

Coffey extended the CHS lead with a 2-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes of the quarter, then added another two-point conversion to push Cloudland’s advantage to 24-15 going to the final 12 minutes.

MOMENTUM SHIFTS

Coalfield’s offense got things going midway through the fourth quarter after a Cloudland turnover.

Jonathon Woodward found his groove on the ground and broke free for a 39-yard touchdown run, but Cloudland stopped the two-point conversion to maintain a 24-21 lead with just under five minutes to play.

After the ‘Landers were unable to extend the ensuing drive, Coalfield took over deep in its own territory with just two and a half minutes to play. The Yellow Jackets used the legs of Woodward and the arm of McKinney — including a pass on fourth down — to get into position for the game winner.

Cloudland, however, wasn’t going to go quietly. Benfield hit Lacy for consecutive passes to quickly move the ’Landers to the Coalfield 30, but the host team was unable to break into the end zone.

CLOUDLAND LEADERS

Coffey wrapped up his legendary career with a 37-carry, 206-yard performance. Benfield was 4 of 8 for 71 yards passing, while Lacy added 64 yards receiving.

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