RADFORD– In a mistake filled, but exciting football contest the "Battle of the Bridge” went to Radford for the second consecutive year as the Bobcats edged Pulaski County, 13-12 in front of a huge crowd in Radford Friday evening.
Somehow the Cougars still managed to come up short even after getting six turnovers on four fumble recoveries, a pass interception, and a blocked punt. Pulaski County head coach Todd Jones said, "When opportunities come, you’ve got to step up. We are very young on offense, most of our seniors are on defense, but you’ve still got to have some leaders on the field, and on offense, we didn’t. After you get a turnover, or force the other team to punt, you need to make something happen with the football. We didn’t. We need an identity and need to find out what that is quick, because this is only going to get tougher.”
Radford’s offense ran 59 plays in the game, Pulaski County just 43. "I thought Radford had a good plan, but our defense got a little tired. Our offense never got the defense off the field. I kept thinking on the sideline when are we going to do something, but the spark just didn’t seem to be there. I know our offensive line is young, but it’s going to have to grow up and it’s going to have to do it quickly.”
Even with the six turnovers, the Cougars had few real scoring opportunities, but missed two field goals and botched both extra point attempts. "We left some points on the field with the kicking game, no question about that, but overall, we didn’t execute well enough, didn’t make enough plays, and the offense never seized the moment, and it had opportunities, but nobody took charge. We’re going to look real hard at the film and break things down, and we may have to make some adjustments. I’m just real disappointed. I expected to play better,” said Jones.
Radford dominated the first half and the Bobcat defense held the Cougars to just 35 total yards, and Pulaski County’s Zack Akers had a 29-yard field goal attempt blocked. Radford totaled 165 yards of offense and Caleb Findley hit field goals of 39 and 34 yards, and hit the upright from 46 yards out on the last play of the half, but the Bobcats were up, 6-0 at the break.
Radford moved ahead 13-0 at the 8:13 mark of the third quarter after driving 61 yards in six plays when Isiah Carter scored from a yard out, and Findley hit the conversion kick. Pulaski County still could not move the football, but got a big break.
After holding Radford on downs Gabe Leblanc blocked the punt and Corey Dobbins recovered for the Cougars at the Bobcats’ one yard line. Cody Long scored from there, but the extra point kick was blocked again, and with 2:36 left in the third quarter the margin was cut to, 13-6.
Then came another big break. After the kickoff Radford couldn’t move the pigskin, and on third down the ball was knocked free and Phoenix Ramsey recovered the fumble at the Bobcats’ 34. Long scored from two yards out to cut the margin to just one, 13-12 on the final play of the third quarter. Jones decided to try for the lead and went for two points, but the snap rolled on the ground, and Long was tackled short of the goal line to keep the Cougars a point down.
The Cougar defense made yet another play. Corky Hall picked off a pass, and it was first down for Pulaski County at the 50, but the offense went three and out, so out came the defense and forced Radford to punt from deep in its own territory again. This time Brandon Brock made a 17-yard punt return and it was first down at the Radford 33. Tailback Marcus McClanahan got outside the right end and ran 21 yards to the Radford 12, but the possession bogged down again and with 4:07 left in the game Akers came on for the go-ahead field goal from 27 yards out. It was wide left.
Radford took over at its own 20, and was faced with a fourth down and one at the 29 with just 2:14 left to play. The safe bet was to punt the ball, but Radford coach Matthew Saunders decided to try and put the game away, and on fourth down from deep in its own territory Bobcat quarterback Hunter Marshall kept up the middle for two yards and a first down that pretty much ended the game. The Bobcats did eventually have to punt in the final seconds and Brock had another excellent punt return, but with only one play left at the Radford 34 Marcus Johnston tried to connect with Akers deep, but the pass was batted and picked off.
Radford finished with 230 yards rushing and 66 passing for 296 total yards, and 13 first downs. Pulaski County managed just 129 yards rushing, and just 21 yards passing for only 150 yards of offense, and eight first downs.
Corey Dark had 91 yards rushing on eight attempts for Radford, Marshall had 59 on 16 attempts, William Minter had 11 tries for 31 yards, and Hunter Griffitts had 27 yards on 10 attempts. McClanahan led the Cougars with 46 yards on 10 carries, and Long finished with 39 yards on seven attempts. Nobody else had more than 11. Tyler Dotson, Johnston, and Long combined to go only two of nine passing for 21 yards.
Pierce Rigney, Long, Dobbins, and Ramsey all had fumbled recoveries, Hall had his interception, and Leblanc his blocked punt for the six turnovers by the Cougar defense.
Friday Pulaski County has its home opener against Northside.