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Cougars fall to Blue Demons in season opener

By DAVID GRAVELY, swtsportslogo copySWT Sports Editor

Mistakes, fumbles, and penalties at key times cost Pulaski County a chance to win their season opener under new Head Coach Stephen James in Christiansburg tonight, but make no mistake that the game was much closer than the score indicated.

Pulaski County and Christiansburg both finished the game with 10 first downs each. The Cougars had 158 rushing yards, compared to the Blue Demons 238 yards. The Cougars completed 3 of 13 passes for 22 yards, but threw two costly interceptions. Christiansburg did not complete a pass. That left the total yardage at 180 yards for the Cougars and 238 yards for the Blue Demons.

Final score, Pulaski 8, Christiansburg 28.

A costly special teams miscue that resulted in a 69-yard punt return for a score early by Simeon Brown, and several fumbles deep inside Pulaski County territory left the Cougars trailing 14-0 at the half after a 12-yard run by Alec Henderson. Another fumble gave the Blue Demons the ball near the end zone again, resulting in a late third quarter score to move the total to 21-0 when Drew Dunn took the ball in from 5 yards out.

Pulaski County needed a spark, and they got one when Hesus Hickman blocked a Alex Perkins punt attempt near the Christiansburg end zone. The ball was picked up by a Blue Demon player who was soundly thumped by Tyler Gravely of Pulaski for the safety.

The Cougars got the ball back after the safety, and sophomore quarterback Bryant Grubb led the Cougars on a sustained drive that resulted in a 12 play, 51 yard drive that ended with Grubb going into the end zone from one yard out.

Christiansburg felt the pressure, but found an insurance touchdown with just 1:14 remaining in the contest when Mitchell Walters went 24 yards to pay dirt.

The Cougars finished the game on a positive note, looking better than they did at the start of the game and giving a solid and physical defensive effort throughout the contest.

Marcus Payne led all running backs and the Cougars rushing attack with 18 carries for 77 yards. Bryant Grubb ran 7 times for 51 yards, Jesse Draper carried 7 times for 18 yards, and Hunter Thomas carried the ball 5 times for 11 yards.

Cole Christian led the Blue Demons with 16 carries for 60 yards. Alec Henderson carried 10 times for 54 yards, Charlie Jackson carried 5 times for 50 yards, and Drew Dunn carried the ball 8 times for 43 yards. Mitchell Walters had 2 carries for 28 yards, and Simeon Brown carried five times for 11 yards.

Malik Eaves had two catches for 7 yards, Elliott Brewster caught one pass for 6 yards, and Marcus Payne caught one pass for 9 yards.

The Cougars will host the Radford Bobcats next week, while the Blue Demons will move on to face Giles on the road.

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