Cougars perform well in TD Classic

By DAVID GRAVELY
SWT SPORTS EDITOR

It’s been a long time, but Friday night saw a return to an old favorite for many sports fans as Pulaski County High School hosted the Cougar Touchdown Classic at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium.

Scores didn’t really matter or count, but they were kept. Each team got two halfs of football. Each half was against a different team. The Cougars were joined by the Liberty-Bedford, Galax, Rustburg and George Wythe for what turned out to be a great day of football after an initial rainy start.

The Cougars took the field first to take on George Wythe. The game action was live, with the only difference being there were no kickoffs and no punt returns.

Kellen Dalton got the start at quarterback, and after just six plays he led his team into the endzone with a 41 yard touchdown pass to E.J. Horton. The PAT was good by Ryan Castle to give the Cougars the 7-0 lead.

George Wythe tied the game two possessions later on a 24 yard touchdown run. The good kick tied it at 7-7.

The Cougars drove down the field near the end of the first half, but a long field goal attempt on the wet field was no good, leaving the game tied.

After trading possessions for most of the second half, Pulaski County drove the ball deep into the Maroon side of the field. Connor Martin, with an outstanding second and third effort, stretched out across the goal line from 6 yards out to give the Cougars the lead. Castle was again good on his kick to make it 14-7.

George Wythe scored again near the end of the matchup with a 14 yard scoring run. The PAT tied it up at 14-14.
After getting a heavy dose of newcomer Kade Akers at quarterback, the fans got to see sophomore James Jackson in action for the final drive.

Jackson completed a short pass along with a 13 and 19 yard run to move the Cougars into scoring position, but a 51 yard field goal attempt by Castle was no good to end the matchup.

Dalton was 3 of 4 passing for 53 yards with an interception and a touchdown. Akers was 3 of 6 for 70 yards. Jackson was 1 of 2 for 4 yards.

The Cougars had 20 rushing attempts for 81 yards.

Rustburg was up next for the Cougars in the final game of the night.

Sean Spencer recovered his second fumble of the night on the opening drive to put the Cougars in business. Dalton ran an option play, flipping the ball to Horton who scampered 35 yards for his second score of the night. Another good point after by Castle put the Cougars up 7-0.

On their next drive Pulaski County went to the air. Kade Akers scrambled and sent a pass 40 yards on a rope to a diving Mason Clark in the endzone. The kick by Castle make it 14-0.

The Cougars didn’t take as long on their next drive.

Akers handed the ball off to Jaceri Eaves, who busted through the right side of the line, cut to the sideline and outran everyone for 58 yards to the endzone.

Up 21-0 after the Castle kick, head coach Stephen James began to work his backups into the contest.

The team still drove down the field, giving Castle a chance at a 22 yard field goal. The ground may have been wet, but Castle’s leg was plenty strong enough to give Pulaski County the 24-0 lead.

The second half was a running clock with most of the Cougar starters on the sidelines. Rustburg was able to break lose for a 56 yard touchdown, but the clock ran out with the Cougars up 24-7.

“We saw some good things out here tonight,” Cougar head coach Stephen James said. “We were trying to get as many kids on the field as possible, and I think we did well with trying out kids in different situations. We know we’ve got some things to fix still, but our kids are working hard and willing to what we ask of them. I think this team will be competitive, but we need to keep working hard to build some depth on our line. All in all it was a good day and I like the direction we’re heading.”

The Cougar sophomores were pulled up from the JV squad this week to help with those depth issues. Gage Mannon saw considerable time at the linebacker position, giving the fans a show with some solid hits and physical play. James Jackson saw time at quarterback and on the defensive side of the ball. Logan Fox got some time in on the line for the Cougars, a place where depth is needed desperately.

Dalton not only did well at quarterback, but also at the slot position where he caught several passes from Akers.

The team will watch the films now and begin to prepare for Northside and the season opener. The two teams will tangle Friday night at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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