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Hampton rolls to a road victory over county foe Cloudland, 33-0

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
nic.miller@elizabethton.com

ROAN MOUNTAIN – It was an inter-county matchup in Carter County on Friday night as the Bulldogs of Hampton traveled 10 minutes up the road to take on a familiar foe in Roan Mountain in the form of the Cloudland Highlanders.

It was a matchup surrounded with tons of hype, as this contest was named the Tennessee Titans High School Game of the week, meaning the winner of Friday’s matchup would receive serious bragging rights.

Hampton would take possession of the pigskin first in this one just before midfield at the 44-yard line, where an eight-play drive would be capped off by the Bulldogs’ Levi Lunsford who would find an opening to score from 16 yards out.

The point after by Michael Harrison would miss just to the right, leaving the score at a 6-0 advantage for the visitors midway through the first stanza.

But that would be all of the action that fans would see for a while, as the remainder of the quarter proved to be lackluster for each offense, neither being able to cross the goal line.

Action would resume in the second period when Hampton would take over on their own 38-yard line, and after a series of chunk plays by Lunsford and quarterback Conor Jones to put the Bulldogs just inside the Highlander 30, Jones would use his agility to get past the defense and add six more with a 29-yard touchdown run halfway through the second.

A failed two-point conversion by Jones that would be just short of the goal line would leave the score at 12-0 in favor of the Bulldogs.

Soon after, it seemed that the Highlanders had new life as Hampton’s Jones would be hit by a group of Cloudland defenders, causing a fumble that would be recovered by the home team at midfield.

But it was nothing doing for Cloudland, as the drive resulted in a three and out, resulting in similar drives from each squad until late in the first half.

With just under 30 seconds to go before halftime, the Bulldogs would take over just past midfield at their opponent’s 45-yard line, where it would be a one-play drive with Jones finding Ty McElyea for a 45-yard score through the air.

This time the two-point conversion would be successful with Jones finding Geno Carico to make it a 20-point advantage for Hampton at the break.

The Bulldogs would come out in the second half just as they did in the first, as Hampton would block the Cloudland punt midway through the third, setting the visitors up at the Highlanders 20-yard line.

This set up another short drive for the Bulldogs, as Johnathan Greenwell would tack on another score with a two-yard rush across the goal line to make it a 26-0 ball game with six minutes left in the third.

Hampton would strike once more in the quarter, as Ryan Crumley put the proverbial nail in the coffin with a rumbling 10-yard touchdown, giving the Bulldogs a 33-0 advantage just before the final quarter of play.

Late in the fourth quarter, it seemed as if the Highlanders would score their first points of the ball game when quarterback Chase Shell would find his running back Seth Birchfield on a screen pass for a gain of 49 that would take Cloudland down to the Hampton 35-yard line.

However, the drive would stall out and Friday night’s contest would end in a 33-0 shutout win for the Hampton Bulldogs

In the win for Hampton, Jones led the charge with 75 yards on the ground and one score as well as 45 yards through the air and one passing touchdown.

For Cloudland, Birchfield rushed for 47 yards, while quarterback Shell would finish with a line of 7 for 15 and 72 yards through the air.

After the win, Hampton head coach Michael Lunsford talked about his team’s victory over a county rival, saying, “For us, we always wanna beat Cloudland. It’s like I said earlier in the week, these guys are your brothers. You know we had Zac (Benfield) with us last year, so it was good to see what he is doing with these guys up here.”

“This game means so much to whoever is on the winning side of the matchup. It’s a pride thing for whoever wins, so it is great to get a win here tonight.”

Hampton moves to 4-0 on the year and will be back in action next week on the road against Happy Valley, while Cloudland drops to 3-1 this season and will be able to rest up next week with an opening in the schedule.