McDonald scores in overtime to win the game for the Cougars
By JP WIDNER
The junior varsity Cougar football team hosted the 6A Eagles of Franklin County Thursday evening on Joel Hicks Field.
The Cougar offense seemed to click right away in the opening drive as Landen Lawson and Hunter Thomas took turns running the ball down to the opponent’s 18-yard line. The Eagle defense finally tightened up and stopped Pulaski County on downs.
Sam Grissom led the Cougar defense with three solo tackles in Franklin County’s first offensive series and forced them to punt after five plays.
Pulaski County looked as if they scored on the next series as Jamall Edmonds ran down the right sideline for an apparent 72 yard touchdown run. Unfortunately for the Cougars, an offensive holding penalty nullified Edmond’s great effort, and they punted two plays later.
The Eagles drove down the field in the final series of the first quarter with the help of two more Pulaski penalties.
On the opening play of the second quarter, Mathias Honaker stepped up to stop Franklin County by mere inches on a fourth down play to help the Cougars regain possession of the pigskin. The two teams traded turns trying to score once more before halftime. Pulaski County continued to show defensive power, but two fumbles on offense helped stall them on the final drive right before the intermission.
With the score knotted at 0-0, the second half started with the Cougars on defense. After Cherokee Widner made the solo tackle on the kickoff, Grissom sacked the quarterback on the fifth play from scrimmage, jarring the ball loose while teammate Jesse Richardson jumped on the fumble at Franklin County’s 33-yard line.
With the end zone in clear sight, the Cougars inched forward until Kevon Houston dropped a perfectly thrown pass by quarterback Bryant Grubb at the 10-yard line. Franklin County took over at their own 11-yard line and Fred Mack sprinted 40 yards on their first offensive play. Grubb made the touchdown saving tackle at the 49-yard line of Pulaski County. Defensive lineman Antonio Powell stepped up to make two tackles behind the line of scrimmage to end the Eagle’s scoring threat.
The Cougars went four plays and out in their next series. The Eagles started to move the ball again with a well performed hook and ladder play for a 20 yard gain. Pulaski County’s Grissom halted their threat as he recorded his second sack of the game for a seven yard loss with less than two minutes to play in regulation.
Grubb tried to lead the Cougars for the game winning touchdown but underthrew wide receiver Kevon Houston, forced the ball into triple coverage on the next play and then overthrew Houston to go 0 for 3 in the drive. To make things even worst, the usually reliable punter, Hunter Thomas, managed to punt the ball just six yards due to a tremendous rush by Franklin County, and the Eagles had the ball at the Pulaski County 30 yard line.
On the very next play, with just 29 seconds left in the game, Antonio Powell tackled the ball carrier while linebacker Drew Allen stripped him of the football and recovered the fumble at the line of scrimmage. Grubb looked to throw the ball to Landen Lawson on the next play but overthrew him, causing the football to bounce off an opponent’s shoulder pad and be intercepted by Franklin County’s Fred Mack.
The Eagles went to their usually reliable passing attack, but Grubb stepped up for the Cougars to save the day as he intercepted Christopher Shaw’s pass at the 10-yard line as time expired.
In the overtime period, Pulaski County went on offense first with a first and goal at the 10 yard line. On the first play, Jeff McDonald ran for seven yards. The Cougars went back to McDonald on the second play and he scored from three yards out to finally put Pulaski County on the scoreboard. On the two point conversion try, McDonald ran over a would-be tackler at the goal line and the Cougars led 8-0.
It was now Franklin County’s turn to attempt to score from the 10-yard line in overtime. Lawson stopped the wide receiver after a short four yard pass completion. Linebacker Mathias Honaker stopped the Eagle ball carrier after a two yard gain on the second play. Grissom flexed his muscles once again as he crushed running back Trenton Toliver for a one yard loss. Honaker finished the Eagles and the game as he went through the offensive line and nailed the running back for a three yard loss on fourth down. The Cougars defense had held on for their fourth victory of the season by the score of 8-0.
The Cougar defense was led by Sam Grimson who recorded an incredible 11.5 tackles and 2 sacks. Mathias Honaker had a great game at linebacker with 6 total tackles followed by Landen Lawson (5), Antonio Powell (4.5), Tyler Sechrist (4.5), Jeff McDonald (4), Drew Allen (3.5), Jesse Richardson (3), Bryant Grubb (2 tackles and one interception), Kevon Houston (2), Cherokee Widner (1), Matt Coble (.5) and Jamall Edmonds (.5). Jesse Richardson and Drew Allen had fumble recoveries.
Hunter Thomas led the Cougar rushing attack with 77 yards on 11 carries. Landen Lawson rushed for 28 yards on 6 carries followed by Jeff McDonald (6 carries for 21 yards and one touchdown), Jamall Edmonds (7 carries for 4 yards), Dontay Brown (2 carries for 3 yards) and Bryant Grubb (1 carry for -3 yards). Pulaski County rushed for 130 total yards on 33 carries for an average of 3.9 yards. Grubb had a tough day passing the ball as he went 0-6 and one interception. Hunter Thomas averaged 31.6 yards for six punts. The Cougars earned just 6 first downs and were penalized five times for 35 yards.
Franklin County (1-4) rushed for 124 yards on 40 rushes (3.1 yards per carry). Christopher Shaw completed 6 of 11 passes for 51 yards and one interception. The opponent averaged 41 yards on three punts and out gained the Cougars in total offensive yards 182-142. The Eagles converted 9 first downs and had 4 penalties for 20 yards.
The JV Cougars will look for their fifth victory of the season next Thursday evening at 6 p.m. as they host Cave Spring High School.