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COUGARS COME UP ONE GAME SHORT

Pulaski County saw its dream football season come to an end Saturday afternoon in Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium / Joel Hicks Field as the Cougars fell to strong Amherst County, 13-7 in the state Group AA, Division 4 semi-final.
The Lancers (12-1) will now move on to the state championship game at Liberty University in Lynchburg next Saturday while the season ended for the Cougars one game short of their dream, but nonetheless Pulaski County had a terrific season and finishes with a 12-1 record, and the Cougars are champions of the River Ridge District and Region Four.
It’s hard for people to understand the hurt inside a locker room after a difficult defeat, and it was one of the most emotional scenes ever in a Cougar locker room following the game, but the senior class can take solace in its accomplishments, and after going 2-8 its sophomore season, it improved to 7-3 and a playoff berth in 2007 their junior season, and then to the top of the heap in Region Four in 2008 as seniors with the fourth undefeated regular season in school history.
But anyone who has ever played the game realizes that the kind of hurt a football player feels after a game like Saturday is one of the big hurts in one’s life, but that such disappointments come only after great accomplishment, and this Pulaski County football team accomplished a lot.
Head coach Jack Turner tried to talk to his team through his own tears, but it was extremely difficult.
“I’m very proud. I couldn’t be more proud. You left it on the field. You gave it everything you had. We’d all like to play the game again. I know that, but the thing we all need to remember is that we played it out. We did all we could right up until the very end, and we stayed together and fought together all the way. I will never ever be more proud than I am right now of this football team, but right now let’s all just get ourselves together the best we can, and we’ll all talk in a couple of days when we get back to school. I’m sorry we didn’t win, and I’ll take the blame because I know this team did everything it could, and played as hard as it could, and that’s all anybody can ask,’’ said Turner.
Pulaski County led most of the first half even though it was not able to take advantage of all its opportunities. The Cougars took the opening kickoff and marched 60 yards in a dozen plays, but came up short when Nubian Peak could not hold onto a Luke Watson pass in the end zone on fourth down.
But the Cougar defense held Amherst in check most of the game and was without a doubt the physically dominant unit on the field. After three and out for the Lancers the Cougars came down the field again. It took just five plays to move 47 yards with fullback E.J. Dobbins ramming over from seven yards out. Peak had the big run on the possession of 25 yards.
But with the Lancer offense being held under control by the Cougar defense, the Pulaski County offense could not sustain the upper hand.
The Cougars were moving again in the middle of the second quarter, but Watson was sacked for a loss of seven yards on a first down pass attempt. From that play on, the Cougars were not able to get much done, and the contest was not a battle of high powered offenses as some predicted, but a battle of defenses as both teams were held by the other to far less offensive outputs than usual.
Pulaski County managed only 22 yards on its remaining 12 plays in the first half, and gained only 52 yards on 20 plays the second half, but field position was a huge problem for the Cougars who’s first two second half possessions came from their own 1-foot line. But Amherst couldn’t do much better as the Lancers managed only 61 second half yards.
Amherst tied the game in the second quarter with just a little more than five minutes left before halftime. The big play was a 45-yard pass from quarterback Anthony Rose to tight end Taylor Grubbs who got behind the Cougar deep backs.
Pulaski County had 121 total yards the first half, and Amherst, a prolific running attack, managed but 34 yards on 13 carries, and 106 total yards. Peak had 80 yards rushing for Pulaski County at the half, but would finish the game with just 89 yards, as he managed only nine yards on just four carries the second half, but that was because of horrible field position and lack of possession time for the Cougars.
With the score tied 7-7 Mario Vaughn got a big kickoff return to the Pulaski County 21 to start the second half, and the Cougars would play the entire second half with their backs to the wall.
“It was hard to sustain possessions,’’ said Turner. “We got Amherst blocked pretty good up front, but they have such good team quickness that the second wave got us a lot of the time, and where against some teams you would have a breakout run, against Amherst, they fill the space because of their speed. They couldn’t move the ball like they are used to either. In a game like this, mistakes, and just a good bounce of the ball, or a penalty or something will often determine the outcome. I guess they made a couple more good plays than we did, or we made one mistake too many,’’ said Turner, “but I still love this team, and I will forever be proud and thankful for the great season they gave us.’’
Amherst could not take advantage of the big kickoff return and even tried a fake off a 20-yard field goal attempt, but the Cougar defense stopped the Lancers short, but poor field position was a big problem. Pulaski County’s first two second half possessions started inside their own one-yard line. Their best second half field position was a series that began at the 24 after a Jared Cole fumble recovery when Amherst even left their usual “wing-T’’ offense and tried to attack out of a “shot-fun.’’
Neither team could make a big play offensively, but the field position remained in Amherst’s favor.
Finally Pulaski County managed to create a little space on the field and tried a first down pass again, this time Watson faked into the line and lofted an aerial toward Brandon Hazzard who sometimes plays the wing in the backfield or tight end on offense. He was open, but the pass was short and picked off by A.J. Parrish.
This is also the time of the game that outstanding defensive tackle Josh Miller hurt his foot and had to leave the game.
The Lancers took possession on the Cougar 49. It took 12 hard nosed plays with bodies clashing all over the field before Rose finally sneaked over from a yard out with just 53 seconds left in the game for the 13-7 win.
How fortunate was Amherst? Fullback Devonte Brown had the ball knocked loose from his grasp on a run off the right side, but he was hit and the ball bounced into the air and straight back down into his arms for a six-yard gain to the nine.
It was that type of game, and that was the way it was going to be decided. The offensive numbers were smallish compared to the usual performance of these two offensive units.
Amherst finished with 115 yards rushing on 41 carries. Rose led the way with 44 yards on 16 attempts. Vaughn finished with 35 yards on nine carries. Rose hit four of six passes for 106 yards with Grubbs catching two for 67 and Vaughn two for 39 yards. The Lancers managed 11 first downs, and 221 total yards of offense.
Pulaski County finished with 155 yards rushing on 41 attempts. Watson was two of seven passing for 20 yards. The Cougars finished with 175 total yards of offense. After Peak’s 89 rushing yards, Dobbins had 45 on 12 carries, and Seth Parris finished with 21 yards on seven attempts. The Cougars finished with 10 first downs.

By Dan Callahan

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COUGARS COME UP ONE GAME SHORT

Pulaski County saw its dream football season come to an end Saturday afternoon in Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium / Joel Hicks Field as the Cougars fell to strong Amherst County, 13-7 in the state Group AA, Division 4 semi-final.
The Lancers (12-1) will now move on to the state championship game at Liberty University in Lynchburg next Saturday while the season ended for the Cougars one game short of their dream, but nonetheless Pulaski County had a terrific season and finishes with a 12-1 record, and the Cougars are champions of the River Ridge District and Region Four.
It’s hard for people to understand the hurt inside a locker room after a difficult defeat, and it was one of the most emotional scenes ever in a Cougar locker room following the game, but the senior class can take solace in its accomplishments, and after going 2-8 its sophomore season, it improved to 7-3 and a playoff berth in 2007 their junior season, and then to the top of the heap in Region Four in 2008 as seniors with the fourth undefeated regular season in school history.
But anyone who has ever played the game realizes that the kind of hurt a football player feels after a game like Saturday is one of the big hurts in one’s life, but that such disappointments come only after great accomplishment, and this Pulaski County football team accomplished a lot.
Head coach Jack Turner tried to talk to his team through his own tears, but it was extremely difficult.
“I’m very proud. I couldn’t be more proud. You left it on the field. You gave it everything you had. We’d all like to play the game again. I know that, but the thing we all need to remember is that we played it out. We did all we could right up until the very end, and we stayed together and fought together all the way. I will never ever be more proud than I am right now of this football team, but right now let’s all just get ourselves together the best we can, and we’ll all talk in a couple of days when we get back to school. I’m sorry we didn’t win, and I’ll take the blame because I know this team did everything it could, and played as hard as it could, and that’s all anybody can ask,’’ said Turner.
Pulaski County led most of the first half even though it was not able to take advantage of all its opportunities. The Cougars took the opening kickoff and marched 60 yards in a dozen plays, but came up short when Nubian Peak could not hold onto a Luke Watson pass in the end zone on fourth down.
But the Cougar defense held Amherst in check most of the game and was without a doubt the physically dominant unit on the field. After three and out for the Lancers the Cougars came down the field again. It took just five plays to move 47 yards with fullback E.J. Dobbins ramming over from seven yards out. Peak had the big run on the possession of 25 yards.
But with the Lancer offense being held under control by the Cougar defense, the Pulaski County offense could not sustain the upper hand.
The Cougars were moving again in the middle of the second quarter, but Watson was sacked for a loss of seven yards on a first down pass attempt. From that play on, the Cougars were not able to get much done, and the contest was not a battle of high powered offenses as some predicted, but a battle of defenses as both teams were held by the other to far less offensive outputs than usual.
Pulaski County managed only 22 yards on its remaining 12 plays in the first half, and gained only 52 yards on 20 plays the second half, but field position was a huge problem for the Cougars who’s first two second half possessions came from their own 1-foot line. But Amherst couldn’t do much better as the Lancers managed only 61 second half yards.
Amherst tied the game in the second quarter with just a little more than five minutes left before halftime. The big play was a 45-yard pass from quarterback Anthony Rose to tight end Taylor Grubbs who got behind the Cougar deep backs.
Pulaski County had 121 total yards the first half, and Amherst, a prolific running attack, managed but 34 yards on 13 carries, and 106 total yards. Peak had 80 yards rushing for Pulaski County at the half, but would finish the game with just 89 yards, as he managed only nine yards on just four carries the second half, but that was because of horrible field position and lack of possession time for the Cougars.
With the score tied 7-7 Mario Vaughn got a big kickoff return to the Pulaski County 21 to start the second half, and the Cougars would play the entire second half with their backs to the wall.
“It was hard to sustain possessions,’’ said Turner. “We got Amherst blocked pretty good up front, but they have such good team quickness that the second wave got us a lot of the time, and where against some teams you would have a breakout run, against Amherst, they fill the space because of their speed. They couldn’t move the ball like they are used to either. In a game like this, mistakes, and just a good bounce of the ball, or a penalty or something will often determine the outcome. I guess they made a couple more good plays than we did, or we made one mistake too many,’’ said Turner, “but I still love this team, and I will forever be proud and thankful for the great season they gave us.’’
Amherst could not take advantage of the big kickoff return and even tried a fake off a 20-yard field goal attempt, but the Cougar defense stopped the Lancers short, but poor field position was a big problem. Pulaski County’s first two second half possessions started inside their own one-yard line. Their best second half field position was a series that began at the 24 after a Jared Cole fumble recovery when Amherst even left their usual “wing-T’’ offense and tried to attack out of a “shot-fun.’’
Neither team could make a big play offensively, but the field position remained in Amherst’s favor.
Finally Pulaski County managed to create a little space on the field and tried a first down pass again, this time Watson faked into the line and lofted an aerial toward Brandon Hazzard who sometimes plays the wing in the backfield or tight end on offense. He was open, but the pass was short and picked off by A.J. Parrish.
This is also the time of the game that outstanding defensive tackle Josh Miller hurt his foot and had to leave the game.
The Lancers took possession on the Cougar 49. It took 12 hard nosed plays with bodies clashing all over the field before Rose finally sneaked over from a yard out with just 53 seconds left in the game for the 13-7 win.
How fortunate was Amherst? Fullback Devonte Brown had the ball knocked loose from his grasp on a run off the right side, but he was hit and the ball bounced into the air and straight back down into his arms for a six-yard gain to the nine.
It was that type of game, and that was the way it was going to be decided. The offensive numbers were smallish compared to the usual performance of these two offensive units.
Amherst finished with 115 yards rushing on 41 carries. Rose led the way with 44 yards on 16 attempts. Vaughn finished with 35 yards on nine carries. Rose hit four of six passes for 106 yards with Grubbs catching two for 67 and Vaughn two for 39 yards. The Lancers managed 11 first downs, and 221 total yards of offense.
Pulaski County finished with 155 yards rushing on 41 attempts. Watson was two of seven passing for 20 yards. The Cougars finished with 175 total yards of offense. After Peak’s 89 rushing yards, Dobbins had 45 on 12 carries, and Seth Parris finished with 21 yards on seven attempts. The Cougars finished with 10 first downs.

By Dan Callahan

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