Remember the commercial where the farmer yells at a bunch of beavers to "quit chuckin’ my wood.” Well, it was the Beavers that got "chucked” Friday night.
It was supposed to be at least a "game-like” experience, but in reality it wasn’t that at all. Of course, when one team allows the other just 10 total yards and only one first down, it’s not usually a game, as in not a close game.
A 21-0 first half by Pulaski County in the "Harvey’s GM Border Clash” was all that was really charted last Friday evening in Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium/Joel Hicks Field.
So dominant were the Cougars that Bluefield wanted to only play backups the second half, wanted a continuous clock (never stopping the clock for any reason, out of bounds, penalties, or anything), and then in the third quarter, they even took the numbers off the scoreboard.
At that point, it was game, set, match, and what at least was supposed to be a game, was over. Never have I seen one end so quickly. Usually they stop keeping score at the recreation level, but make no mistake, this was Bluefield’s call, and in order to get his players on the field and and get some experience, Pulaski County head coach Todd Jones had to go along with the situation. He had little choice.
I would think that Jones and his coaching staff would probably have liked to see his top units play another quarter in the effort to prepare for the regular season which commences Friday in the "Battle of the Bridge” at Radford.
However, the Cougars made the most of the opportunity in the first half and looked impressive. Jones was pleased.
"I’m happy. We got off to a bit of a slow start with the turnover on offense, but we got it going. The defense just shut Bluefield down. Our defense kept us in good field position, until the offense started rolling. We got a good mix, got a lot of people involved. We need to block a little better on the perimeter, but we’ll work on that.
But we have to pleased with our defense. They played aggressive, tough, and the Bluefield coaches told us we were a physical football team. You like hearing things like that when it comes from your opponent. I thought we did well in some game type situations, and had good contact. We would have liked to have gone a little longer, but that’s the way it goes. I’d like to think we got a little better tonight, and we have to be pleased and also happy so many kids got on the field,” said Jones.
The Cougars drove 69 yards on 11 plays in the first quarter to go up 7-0 on a four-yard run by quarterback Marcus Johnston. Zach Akers kicked the conversion. Pulaski County drove 74 yards two possessions later on eight plays and this score came on a 28-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Dotson to Akers.
There was a third long drive in the first half when the Cougars powered 62 yards on eight plays and tailback Marcus McClanahan zoomed over the goal line this time from 11 yards out.
Akers was three-for-three on his extra point kicks, and it was 21-0 at the half.
Just before the start of the second half, Bluefield let their concerns be known, and the format changed for the remainder of the evening. With the continuous clock, the second half took but 27 minutes to complete.
The meaningful statistics from the event took place in the first half, and all the numbers were lopsided in Pulaski County’s favor. The Cougars totaled 196 yards during that three-touchdown first half on 29 total plays, and amassed 14 first downs.
Bluefield got only a single first down and that came in the final minute of the half, and managed but 10 total yards as three possessions resulted in lost yardage.
It was a balanced effort for the Cougars as McClanahan ran eight times for 74 yards, Brandon Brock seven times for 40, and Rick Cobbs three times for 22. Akers had the 28-yard scoring reception from Dotson, and McClanahan had a 22-yard pass reception from Johnson.
For Pulaski County, regardless of the unexpected change in format the second half, it was a very positive experience.
The offense appears to be much smoother and ready to go than at this juncture last season, there are plenty of weapons to use, and the defense appears to be a rock-ribbed outfit.
But now the preliminary stuff is over. In three days they turn the lights on and suddenly it’s real. "The Battle of the Bridge.” The 2011 football season is upon us.