Cougars shine against Cavaliers

By DAVID GRAVELY
sports@southwesttimes.com

HILLSVILLE – Pulaski County still made a few mistakes, but they were few and far between as the Cougar football team rolled over the Carroll County Cavaliers Friday 49-6 in Hillsville.

“It’s always great when you get some of your younger kids in the game,” head coach Stephen James said afterwards. “We’re happy with the win and we’re happy we came out of the game healthy. I told the kids to enjoy things tonight, but tomorrow we start getting ready for our next game. Our focus needs to be on Cave Spring.”

The Cougars kicked off but quickly forced a punt. Three plays later quarterback Kade Akers hit E.J. Horton across the middle for a 20 yard touchdown. A two-point conversion pass from Akers to Noah Bradley was good, putting Pulaski County up 8-0 with 9:51 still on the clock.

Carroll County went back to work on offense, but on their first play Gage Mannon went up for the ball over the Cavalier receiver and picked it off. Akers led the Cougars downfield quickly. With 8:05 on the clock he hit Horton again, this time on a 26 yard strike for six. Ryan Castle hit the PAT to move the score to 15-0.

The Cavaliers took the kickoff and strung together two first downs before being forced to punt again. The Cougars went back to work, moving the ball down the field with a combination of air and ground attacks. Akers hit Horton for 32 yards and Noah O’Dell for 12 more. On third down and short he found Kellen Dalton in the corner of the end zone for a score with 11:52 remaining in the half. The PAT by Castle moved the score to 22-0.

Carroll County got on the board with 7:40 remaining in the half. A pass was deflected by a Cougar defender, but the Carroll County found a way to haul it in and went 50 yards for the score. The PAT was no good, leaving the Cougars up 22-6.

That was the closest Carroll County would get to the Cougars.With 5:47 remaining in the half Akers hit Horton for a third touchdown between the two, this time for 63 yards. The PAT was blocked, but Pulaski County wasn’t finished.

With 2:22 remaining in the half, Jaceri Eaves carried the ball in from four yards out. The Cougars led 35-6 after a good PAT by Castle.

Coach James and his staff did the right thing, and after an initial first series in the second half they started to clear the bench. This valuable playing time is key to building depth for the team.

Alex Akers intercepted a Cavalier pass in the first Cavalier offensive series. With 10:50 remaining in the half Gage Mannon took the handoff and ran 25 yards for the score. With under a minute remaining in the third Jakari Finley plowed into the end zone from three yards out. Castle was good on the PAT each time, giving the Cougars a 49-6 lead.

Nine different Cougars carried the ball Friday and five different Cougars caught passes. Akers, Dalton and James Jackson all saw time at quarterback. Mostly junior varsity players took care of business in the final minutes, but the ball continued to move down the field and the Cavalier starters were still held in check by the Cougar defenders.

The score could have been higher. Kellen Dalton intercepted a pass and raced 90 yards for a score, but it was called back for what the officials thought was a block in the back. It was later shown to be a clean block.

“I’m happy with the win tonight, but we can’t be satisfied,” James said. “We’re going to have get get much better as the season goes on. The quality of our opponents is going to get much better as we go along. Tonight was a good learning experience for us, but we have to be better.”

Kade Akers has established himself as a quality quarterback and is on a pace to set several records by season end. Through four games he has completed 47 of 76 pass attempts with five interceptions for 847 yards. That’s only 227 yards shy of the all-time record for yards in a season, currently held by Bryant Grubb for his 2015 performance of 1,074 yards.

The single game passing yardage record of 266 yards, also held by Grubb, has been threatened twice. Akers has tied the record of 14 completions in a game with Randy Meredith from 1985. Friday he also tied the record held by Terry Finley from 1982 for most touchdown passes in a game with four. The record for most touchdown passes in a season, currently held by Chad Perry with 10 from 2010, will likely fall as well.

The Cougars will be back in action Friday night when they host the Cave Spring Knights. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.

Game Stats
Team
First Downs
PC – 19
CC – 5

Rushing
PC – 42 att/225 yards
CC – 23 att/4 yards

Passing
PC – 10 of 12/1 INT/231 yards
CC – 4 of 12/3 INT/100 yards

Total Yards
PC – 456 yards
CC – 104 yards

Fumbles/Lost
PC – 2/1
CC – 2/0

Penalties
PC – 7/64 yards
CC – 2/14 yards

Punting
PC – 0/0 avg.
CC – 6/33.3 avg.

Return Yards
PC – 170
CC – 54 yards

Individual Stats
Rushing
PC – J. Eaves 12/56, Mannon 5/43, J. Finley 6/34, Thornton 7/28, Riddle 4/29, Nowlin 4/21, K. Akers 1/8, K. Dalton 2/4, J. Jackson 1/2
CC – C. Horton 2/13, McMillian 2/3, Smith 1/-3, Rotenizer 5/-6, Trudell 13/-8

Passing
PC – Akers 10 of 12/INT/231 yards
CC – Rotenizer 4 of 12/3 INT/100

Receiving
PC – Horton 4/140, K. Dalton 3/44, Bradley 1/25, ODell 1/12, Clark 1/9
CC – Smith 1/50, D. Dalton 2/35, McMillian 1/15

Interceptions
PC – Mannon, K. Dalton, A. Akers
CC – Snow

Fumble Recoveries
PC – none
CC – Snow

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