Harriman advances past Cloudland

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By The Staff

Cloudland had a successful year finishing second in the Mountain East Conference and going 7-3 in the regular season, but it came to an end at Orr Field Friday night.

The Harriman Blue Devils got an impressive effort from senior quarterback/running back A.J. Johnson as they took down the Highlanders 18-7 in a muddy and gritty first round TSSAA playoff contest.

“We knew they (Harriman) were a big physical football team,” said Cloudland coach Robbie Turbyfill. “They were able to come out in the first half and do some things, and we couldn’t slow them down. Our kids played hard there the first half, and they came out the second half and played hard. I’m proud of all of them.”

The Highlanders outgained Harriman in total yards 254-222, but it was a few big plays by Johnson that led the Blue Devils to the win.

Johnson accounted for most of the Blue Devils offense racking up 124 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown and throwing for 35 yards and a score. That helped counter a 150 yard performance on 26 carries the Highlanders junior running back Matthew Tipton.

“We just did what we needed to do,” said Harriman coach Travis Tapp, who noted the rain was definitely a factor in both teams play. “I didn’t even know it was supposed to rain, but you’ve got to be able to run the football. We got loose a time or two.”

On the opening possession of the game, Johnson broke off a 34 yard run deep into Cloudland territory. He eventually found pay-dirt from two yards out to put Harriman up 6-0.

Cloudland immediately answered going nearly 70 yards on 11 plays for a score on the ensuing drive. Tipton crossed the goal line from 16 yards out and Kevin Stevens added the extra point to put the Highlanders up 7-6.

Late in the first quarter the Blue Devils forced a Cloudland punt, and Johnson returned it 24 yards to the Highlanders 23. A few plays later Johnson used his arm to put Harriman back on top with a 13 yard touchdown pass to Christian Pryor early in the second period.

“A.J. is a senior,” said Coach Tapp. “He has been our workhorse all year. We’re going to A.J. anytime we need something big, and he comes through for us.”

Cloudland was able to put together a couple of drives in the second quarter, but wasn’t able to get any points in the rain.

“We’ve played a couple of games in the rain and it didn’t affect us as much as it did tonight with it being cold and the wet ball,” Coach Turby-fill said of the weather conditions. “It hurt us throwing the ball. We couldn’t do things on offense like we wanted to.”

Johnson struck one more time in the second half with a 61 yard run to the Highlanders one yard line that set up the Blue Devils final score of the game, a one yard plunge by C.J. Anderson.

Cloudland got into Harriman territory a couple of times in the second half, but the Blue Devils came up with a couple of fourth down stands to seal the game.

“These kids and coaches have got a lot to be proud of,” Coach Turbyfill said of the season his squad had. “We’ve came a long way from where we were at. They’ve worked hard. I’m proud of all of them. I think they’ve done a great job, the coaches and players.”

Coach Tapp was also impressed with what Cloudland has done this year.

“Coach Turbyfill has done a heck of a job with this program,” he said. “They (Cloudland) were well prepared and it was a good game.”

Harriman (6-5) will now take on Midway (10-1) in a rematch of a week nine contest won by Midway, 42-20.

Harriman Statistics

Rushing- Johnson 16-124 with 1 TD, Anderson 13-58 with 1 TD, Inman 1-(-1), Miller 6-(-2).

Passing- Johnson 3-8 for 35 yards with 1 TD, Gann 1-2 for 8 yards.

Receiving- Miller 2-24, Pryor 1-13 with 1 TD, Inman 1-6.