SWT Sports Editor
Hidden Valley High School came to Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium Friday night and ran the ball 49 times for 342 yards in a convincing 28-7 win over the home standing Cougars.
The game started with a bang, as Damon Akers popped the Titan return man on the opening kickoff and knocked the ball loose. Marcus Payne collected the ball out of mid-air, giving Pulaski County the ball at the Titan 30-yard line.
The Cougars would struggle from the start, losing 11 yards in three plays before being forced to punt. That would be the story of the night, as the Cougar offense ran sixteen plays for negative yardage during the contest.
After Pulaski punted the ball to the 9-yard line, Hidden Valley put together a fourteen play drive that covered 91 yards. The scoring play came with 3:44 left in the first quarter, when Walker Brand powers the ball into the end zone from two yards out. Landon Dermott hit the point after touchdown to put the Titans up 7-0.
The Cougars earned their first first down of the game on the first play of their next drive, with Marcus Johnston keeping the ball for twelve yards on the ground. The next three plays again resulted in a loss of eight yards, forcing another Cougar punt.
The Titans didn’t take as long with this drive, covering fifty yards in six plays. Mason Dermott crossed the goal line this time, and the Landon Dermott PAT put Hidden Valley ahead 14-0 with 11:16 left in the first half.
The two teams exchanged several punts, but finally the Cougars began to put a drive together late in the half. A combination of runs and short passes underneath the Titans secondary moved the ball to the Titan 41-yard line, but on third down a Pulaski fumble was recovered by Massi Flici for the Titans. A long pass attempt by Hidden Valley was intercepted by Malik Eaves, and the Cougars ran one play to end the first half.
The Cougars ended the first half with minus four yards rushing, while Hidden Valley had gained 180 yards on the ground. The second half would prove to be much the same.
Pulaski took the second half kickoff, with Eaves returning it to the 28-yard line. Senior Quincy Rollins, who injured his ankle last week, was given a chance to run the ball, but it was clear his ankle was still not ready. Johnston hit Tyler Ervine, who was also nursing a sore ankle, for a 7-yard pass completion on second down, and then went back to the air to Dillon Alley for a 25-yard gain on third down. Unfortunately, the ball was knocked loose at the end of the play and the Titans recovered.
The Titans went to the air as well, with Jake Smiley hitting Dean Sayers for a 10-yard pass and a first down. Brand took over on the next play, rumbling 45 yards for the score. Dermott hit the PAT to give Hidden Valley the 21-0 lead with 10:13 left in the third quarter.
The Cougars gained four yards before losing ten yards on third down, forcing another punt. A 15-yard personal foul face mask penalty moved the ball even further for the Titans, giving them the ball at the Cougar 39-yard line. A steady dose of Mason Dermott running the ball, mixed in with two carries by Nate Atkins put the Titans back in the end zone. The scoring play came on a 2-yard run by Atkins with 4:40 left in the third quarter. Another Landon Dermott PAT put the Titans up 28-0.
The Cougars found some success through the air on their next drive, with Johnston connecting with Ervine for 11 yards, Eaves for 5 yards, and Ervine again for 16 yards. Again, negative yardage plays on three straight plays forced a Cougar punt.
The Titans ran for a 3-yard gain on first down, but another 15-yard face mask penalty moved them to the 46-yard line. Logan Brand took over the running back duties, gaining 15 yards on his first carry. J.D. Sutphin gave Cougar fans something to cheer about the next play when he sacked Smiley for a 6-yard loss. The Titans turned the ball over on downs two plays later.
Desperate to put together some offense, the Cougars again went to the air. Johnston completed a 15-yard pass to Ervine before running for a 4-yard gain, and then hit Ervine again on an 8-yard pass. Johnston ran for gains of 5 and 22 yards on the next two plays, but then the Titan defense stepped up to tackle the ball carriers for a loss on three straight plays. On fourth down Johnston ran out of the pocket looking to pass, but was stopped after gaining five yards, short of the first down.
The Titans took over at the 12-yard line, and Logan Brand ran for a short gain he lost control of the ball. Justin Trail pounced on the ball and was able to hold on at the bottom of the pile, giving Pulaski a chance. Four plays later, another Pulaski punt gave Hidden Valley the ball at the 24-yard line. The Titans moved the ball to the Cougar 24-yard line before Smiley fumbled and Elliot Brewster came out of the pile with this one.
With 2:07 left in the game, the Cougars finally got on the board when Cody Semones broke free through the middle and scrambled 75 yards for the touchdown. With Shane Chrisley injured on the opening kickoff, Tyler Harrison was called on to kick the PAT. Harrison put the ball through the uprights to put the final score at 28-7 after the Titans took a knee.
“We made some mistakes, and we made some bad plays,” said Cougar Head Coach Todd Jones. “As the head coach I put that on me. I need to have them better prepared. I need to have the right guys in the right spots, and obviously we haven’t found that yet. That’s on me. We’re not going to through in the towel though. We have a bye week next week. We’re hoping that will give us some time to heal up a few key players and make some moves. We need to know who really wants to play. I’m disappointed in our performance tonight. I know we can do better than this.”
The Cougars will be back in action November 8 when they travel to face the Salem Spartans.
In other action Friday, Patrick Henry defeated Christiansburg 36-29, G.W. Danville defeated Franklin County 37-35, Lord Botetourt defeated William Fleming 20-18, Salem defeated Carroll County 47-21, Northside defeated William Byrd 27-13, and Blacksburg defeated Gretna 15-7. For more scores be sure to visit our VHSL scoreboard.