By JP Widner
SWT Sports Writer
MONETA- The junior varsity Cougars traveled an hour and forty-five minutes to Bedford County Thursday evening to play the Staunton River Golden Eagles. This was the first time the two teams have ever met on the gridiron.
The Cougars kicked off to the Golden Eagles to start the game. The defense held and forced Staunton River into a 4th down and 10 yards on the 31 yard line. The element of surprise caught Pulaski County off guard as a fake punt resulted in an easy 20 yard pass play and a first down. On the 14th play of the opening drive, the Cougars thought they had their opponent down again. On fourth down and 5 yards, two defenders had the Staunton River quarterback in their grasps, but he managed to flick a pass to his receiver for eight yards and a first down. Three plays later, the running back broke two more backfield tackles and raced into the end zone for a 13 yard touchdown. The point after kick was missed and the Golden Eagles led the Cougars 6-0 with 3:18 remaining in the first quarter.
Pulaski County fumbled three times in their next two possessions and turned the football over twice to end the quarter.
The second quarter saw the Cougars perform better on defense, but their offensive drives were halted by a dropped pass, an interception and an overthrown pass. At halftime, the Cougars still trailed 6-0.
As the second half began, the Cougars earned two first downs before quarterback Bryant Grubb lost a fumble to end the drive. The Golden Eagles looked as if they would go up by two touchdowns as they drove to the nine yard line. Pulaski County’s Jeff McDonald stepped up and intercepted his opponent’s pass to end the scoring threat. Three plays later, freshman running back Hunter Thomas ran 85 yards down the right sideline for the score and also ran in the point after attempt to propel the Cougars to an 8-6 lead with 3:19 left in the third quarter.
The lead was short-lived as Staunton River ran back the kickoff right up the middle of the field for 90 yards and a touchdown. To make matters worse for the Cougars, the Golden Eagles caught the Cougars napping on the ensuing onside kick and recovered the ball at the 45-yard line.
Already leading 12-8 at the end of the third quarter, Staunton River scored on the first play of the fourth quarter with a 4 yard touchdown run. The Golden Eagles tried a fake kick for the extra point, but it failed as they led the Cougars 18-8 just four ticks into the final period. Pulaski County fought back and held onto the ball for the next 16 plays while earning four first downs. The drive ended as Grubb threw his second interception of the night with 4:05 left in the game.
The Cougar’s defense flexed their muscle one last time to stop the Golden Eagles a few plays later. With 2:16 left, Pulaski County tried again to mount a comeback on their stubborn opponent. On 4th & 14 on the 26 yard line, Grubb threw into the end zone only to have it intercepted for the third time of the night. Staunton River then snapped the ball twice and walked off their home turf with their third victory of the season.
Hunter Thomas led the Cougar offense with 210 total yards (11 carries for 174 yards, 21 yard punt return, 10 yard kickoff return), a touchdown and a two point conversion. Jeff McDonald carried the ball seven times for 34 yards including four first downs. Bryant Grubb had a tough night as he finished with 5 completions on 13 attempts, 59 passing yards, three fumbles (one lost), three interceptions and six carries for minus 33 yards. Landen Lawson was 0 for 1 in passing and ran the ball seven times for 12 yards. Dontay Brown carried the ball twice for a total of minus two yards and a fumble. Tyler Sechrist had a 16 yard reception while teammate Kevon Houston caught one pass for ten yards.
Sam Grissom led the Cougar defense with 8 ½ tackles followed by Bryant Grubb (6), Zach Dones (5 ½), Drew Allen (5), Levi Erickson (4 ½), Landen Lawson (3 ½), Jeff McDonald (3 ½), Tyler Sechrist (3 ½ and a fumble recovery), Matt Coble (3 ½), Cherokee Widner (1 ½), Mathias Honaker (1 ½), Antonio Powell (1), Kevon Houston (1), Dontay Brown (1), JT Thompson (1) and Kris Frazier (fumble recovery).
Pulaski County (1-2) finished with 288 total yards and 12 first downs. Staunton River (3-1) finished with 192 yards and 10 first downs.
The Cougars will travel to Hillsville next Thursday to play the Carroll County Cavaliers at 6 p.m.