Late in a sluggish first quarter, Happy Valley had the ball on its own 40-yard line. Young streaked past two Highlanders’ defenders and Warriors quarterback Noah Stevens dropped the ball right in his hands. Young caught the pass at the Cloudland 30-yard line and raced untouched into the end zone to put his team up 7-0.
“It was a great call for me,” said Young, who finished with four receptions for 96 yards. “My quarterback was dropping dimes on me all night.”
That was the only score of the first half and Happy Valley knew it had to get some separation from the always dangerous Highlanders.
“Cloudland is a good football team,” said Warriors coach Jason Jarrett. “We knew we were in a dogfight.”
With 1:13 left in a scoreless third quarter, Happy Valley reeled off a 13-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in a 15-yard touchdown run by Matthew Bahn — giving the Warriors a 13-0 advantage.
The drive consumed over seven minutes off the game clock.
“That was really big at that point in the game,” added Jarrett. “We felt like getting up two scores at that point would be to our advantage.”
With just over five minutes to go in the contest, Happy Valley was on the Cloudland 31 with a second and one for a first down. Stevens faked a handoff and found Young cruising down the left sideline. Again, Stevens’ touch was perfect and Young caught the ball in stride and scored easily making the score 19-0.
The Highlanders refused to go quietly. A five-play, 48-yard drive late in the contest produced a 2-yard TD run by Triston Lacy — allowing Cloudland to escape the shutout.
“We just ran out of gas there at the end,” said Cloudland coach Glenn White. “Happy Valley may be the best team we’ll play all season.”
Garrett was happy to come away with the victory.
“It was game one so you don’t know what will happen once the lights come on,” said Garrett. “I’m proud for our kids and our staff, tonight was a total team effort.”