SWT Sports Editor
The Pulaski County Cougars took advantage of five Radford Bobcat turnovers, aggressive play by several new defensive players, and a solid rushing attack to win the 2013 edition of The Battle of the Bridge Friday night in Radford 31-13.
The Bobcats kicked off to the Cougars, who were forced to punt after Radford backed Pulaski up six yards. An illegal participation penalty against the Cougars backed them up another five yards before Marcus Johnston sent the punt 43 yards to the Radford 29-yard line. Radford hurt themselves immediately with a holding penalty, but an 11-yard pass from quarterback Marcus Finley to R.J. Jordan helped regain that yardage. A 1-yard rush put the Bobcats at third down and short, but a fumble by Finley was recovered by Elliot Brewster to give the Cougars the ball back.
Starting at the Bobcat 22-yard line, it only took Pulaski two plays to get on the board. Quincy Rollins carried the ball for the first twelve yards, and then Johnston called his own number for the ten yard touchdown run. Shane Chrisley was good on the point after touchdown, giving the Cougars the early 7-0 lead with 8:07 left in the first quarter.
Chrisley kicked off to the ten, and Baylor returned it to the Bobcat 32-yard line. Pulaski was somehow called for a blocking penalty on the return, giving the Bobcats an additional ten yards. Good gains by Isiah Carter and Heth Grant, along with a 9-yard pass from Finley to D’Andre Cook moved the ball to the Cougar forty, and then Finley carried for an additional 7-yard gain. Jordan got the ball next, but he lost the handle on the ball and Jesse Draper came up with the ball for Pulaski.
The Cougars ran for 41 yards on seven attempts before Johnston completed an 18 yard pass to Dillon Alley to move the ball to the Bobcat 21-yard line. Rollins broke through the middle of the Radford defense for the long run to score, and Chrisley was again good on the PAT for the 14-0 lead.
Never a team to give up, Radford took the kickoff and began to move. Carter ran for a short gain before Finley hit Jordan on a 14-yard pass, and then Jordan ran for 5 yards on the next play. Runs by Grant and Carter moved the ball another eight yards, and then Finley completed a 5-yard pass to Grayson Howard. The first quarter ended with an 11 yard run by Cook.
The Pulaski defense started the second half off with a tackle in the backfield for an eleven yard loss. Finley would break free for a 26 yard gain on the next play, and then the Bobcats would gain short yardage on each of the next four plays to move the ball to the Pulaski 11-yard line. A penalty pushed them back 15 yards, but a 21 yard pass from Finley to Jordan put the Bobcats in scoring position. Finley called his own number, going in from two yards out for the touchdown. Matt Levison hit the PAT to move the score th 14-7 with 6:03 left in the half.
The fumble-bug would continue to hit, and after moving the ball all the way to the Bobcat 9-yard line Heth Grant would recover a Cougar fumble for Radford. The Bobcats would give the ball back to Pulaski two plays later, with Draper picking up his second fumble recovery of the night at the Bobcat 22-yard line. Runs for short gains by Johnston would be negated by a dead-ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Pulaski, forcing another punt. Neither team could put the ball into the end zone for the remainder of the quarter, and the half would end.
Radford took the second half kickoff but couldn’t find any room to move the ball. The Cougars fielded the punt at the Bobcat 36-yard line and went back to work. Ten yards on the ground by Rollins were followed by two yards by Johnston, and the Rollins ran for another four yards. Alley took the handoff on a criss-cross on the next play, going twenty yards for the touchdown. Chrisley’s PAT gave Pulaski the 21-7 lead.
The Bobcats answered immediately, moving the ball 80 yards in seven plays. The score came on a two yard run by Grant with 5:20 left in the third. The PAT was wide-left, and the Bobcats trailed 21-13.
Malik Eaves returned the kickoff 19 yards to the Cougar 32-yard line. Pulaski couldn’t move the ball, and the Bobcats got the ball back at the 44-yard line. Finley attempted to connect with a Bobcat receiver, but Eaves made a good play on the ball and intercepted. The Cougars moved the ball deep into Bobcat territory, but were forced to settle for a 25 yard field goal by Chrisley with 9:58 remaining in the game, moving the score to 24-13.
The Cougar defense began to get to the Bobcat ball carriers quicker, and four plays later Radford punted. Johnston ran for a 22 yard gain before Rollins carried for two more. Brandon Jones move Pulaski nine yard deeper, followed by a two yard gain by Rollins and a 12 yard gain by Johnston. Rollins would top his night off with a 15 yard touchdown run on the next play. The Chrisley PAT moved the score to the final of 31-13.
The Bobcats would burn the final minutes of the game moving the ball slowly up the field, but time would run out with the Cougars taking home the trophy for a second straight year.
Quincy Rollins would lead all rushers with 144 yards on 15 attempts. Marcus Johnston was close behind with 104 yards on 13 attempts. Jones would add 19 yards on six carries and Alley would add 11 yards on five carries. Johnston completed his one pass attempt for 18 yards to Dillon Alley.
Radford was led by Isiah Carter with 16 rushing attempts for 69 yards. Finley earned 47 yards on ten carries, Alex Wright earned 57 yards on one carry, and Jordan had 37 yards on eight carries. Cook added 14 yards on six carries, Grant had 8 yards on three carries, Baylor had 8 yards on one carry, Malcom Thompson had one yard on one carry, and Howard had minus ten yards on one carry. Finley completed 11-of-14 passes for 113 yards and one interception.
The Cougars will now regroup and prepare for next weeks home matchup with Patrick Henry. The Patriots came up just short of a win against Salem Friday night, falling 28-21 to the Spartans. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium.