By DAVID GRAVELY
SWT Sports Editor
The Pulaski County Cougars hosted the Giles Spartans in a pre-season foundation game Friday night. In what turned out to be an offensive shoot-out the Cougars missed too many opportunities, falling by a final score of 28-21.
The first score of the game came quickly, and the Cougars looked impressive as they drove the ball down the field eating up chunks of yardage. After moving the ball to the Spartan 39-yard line, quarterback Marcus Johnston hit Tyler Ervine with an over the shoulder 39-yard touchdown pass. The Shane Chrisley point after touchdown put the Cougars up 7-0 with 9:26 remaining in the first quarter, but Giles would answer quickly.
On their first play from scrimmage, running back Brett Whitlow took the ball through a hole in the Cougar defense for 53 yards before Jake Tabor made a touchdown saving tackle from behind. Two plays later, Whitlow would again get the call and go 31 yards for the score. Whitlow kicked his own PAT to tie the score at 7-7 with 8:00 left in the first quarter.
Pulaski took over the ball at the 20-yard line and went back to work. Runs by Malik Eaves and Quincy Rollins gave the Cougars a first down, but a dropped pass on first and third downs forced a Pulaski punt.
The Spartans went back to work with their patented single-wing offense, eating up real estate on their way to a 1-yard touchdown run by Tyler Perdue to cap off a 74-yard drive. Whitlow hit the PAT to put Giles ahead 14-7.
Rollins ran for 7 yards to start the next Cougar drive, but a penalty and another dropped pass forced Johnston to punt the ball again.
The Cougar defense, which saw a number of new players in action tonight, finally took a stand and forced Giles to punt the ball. Pulaski took over at their own 15-yard line, but two runs from Dillon Alley put them back into scoring position. His first run went for just one yard, but on second and nine the lanky senior broke free for 63 yards to the Giles 21-yard line. A 2-yard run by Brandon Jones moved the ball closer, followed by another 1-yard run. Johnston ran for one and seven yards before Rollins went for a 4-yard gain. As the Cougars were approaching the goal line, a hard hit sent the ball to the ground and Giles recovered the Cougar fumble to end the threat.
Both teams would move the ball back and forth, but were unable to score throughout the remainder of the first half. The Cougars did show some spark in their final drive of the half, completing a 29-yard pass to Heath White and a 13-yard pass to Jones before time ran out.
The Cougars kicked off to start the second half, and the defense came out hot and forced Giles to punt. After runs by Rollins and Johnston earned the first Pulaski first down of the half, Eaves broke loose for 24 yards to the 33-yard line. An incomplete pass and an ineligible receiver downfield penalty were followed by a high snap over Johnston’s head. Another incomplete pass forced the Cougars to punt.
The single-wingers went back to work, using a ground and time eating drive to move the ball 73 yards, with the scoring play coming on a 13-yard pass from Perdue to Cody Rhodes. The Whitlow PAT put the Spartans up 21-7, but the Cougars didn’t panic. An eight play drive moved the ball 80 yards in just over two minutes, with Johnston hitting a wide open Jones on a 21-yard pass for the score. Chrisley’s PAT moved the score to 21-14
Giles went right back to what had been working for them, eating up chunks of yardage on a slow drive to the end zone. With 5:42 left in the fourth quarter Brian Mann broke free for a 19-yard score, and Whitlow hit the PAT for the 28-14 advantage. Once again, Pulaski was able to move the ball quickly, going 65 yards in three minutes for the score. Rollins took the ball in from two yards out and Chrisley was again good on his PAT to put the 28-21 score on the board.
Without the chance to kick a live onside kick, Giles fielded the ball and by gaining one first down were able to run out the clock.
The Cougars were led on the ground by Eaves, who earned 93 yards in 8 attempts. Rollins carried the ball 12 times for 81 yards, and Alley ran ten times for 67 yards. Johnston ran nine times for 37 yards, and Jones carried the ball 8 times for 37 yards. Johnston was 5 of 12 passing for 109 yards. Eaves also attempted one pass which was incomplete. Tyler Ervine caught two passes for 44 yards, White caught one pass for 29 yards, and Jones caught two passes for 34 yards.
For the Spartans, Whitlow earned a team and game high 148 yards one 17 carries. Mann had 10 carries for 65 yards, Perdue had 14 carries for 64 yards, and Dusty Boggess ran 3 times for 15 yards. John Teets carried the ball 3 times for 14 yards, and Tanner Martin carried the ball one time for a two yard loss. Perdue was 4 of 6 passing for 57 yards. Zach Simmons caught two passes for 27 yards, Perdue caught one for 17 yards, and Rhodes caught one pass for 13 yards.
Pulaski County had 424 total yards of offense and 19 first downs. Giles earned 361 total yards of offense and 19 first downs. The Cougars fumbled the ball two times and lost one. Giles fumbled the ball one time, but didn’t lose it.
The Cougars will be back in action next Friday night in the regular season home opener against the Christiansburg Blue Demons. Gates will open at 6 p.m. and all games this season will kick off at 7:00 p.m.