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Cougars crush Colonels in lopsided win

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

ROANOKE – The Cougar football team started with a slow first quarter but exploded through the second and third quarters to earn a 51-0 victory Friday against an overmatched William Fleming squad.

 

After the two teams traded possessions to start the game, the Cougars finally hit paydirt on a 15-yard run by Jakari Finley with five minutes remaining in the opening quarter. Ryan Castle was good on the point after attempt to give the Cougars the 7-0 lead.

 

The struggle to reach the end zone was made worse as tempers flared for both teams, ending with multiple personal fouls against each squad. The Cougars were hit with five penalties in the game for 50 yards. The Colonels were penalized seven times for 53 yards. At least three of the penalties were offsetting fouls.

 

“I was happier with our effort tonight, but we still made too many mistakes,” Cougar Head Coach Stephen James said. “We have to cut out the penalties and we still have a lot of work to do if we want to reach our goals. This was a good start, but the film is going to give us plenty to fix next week.”

 

The Cougars contained the Fleming offensive unit to their own end of the field most of the game. Pulaski County took over deep in Colonel territory and completed a second scoring drive with an eight-yard run by quarterback Kade Akers with 7:17 remaining in the half. Castle was good for the PAT to put Pulaski County up 14-0.

 

Pulaski County struck three more times before the halftime break. The first came on a four-yard pass from Akers to senior EJ Horton with 4:39 remaining. With 2:35, Horton fielded a Fleming punt, headed right, cut back to the home side of the field and raced 41 yards behind a wall of Cougar blockers for a special teams score. Finally, with just five seconds remaining in the half Akers hit Horton for a 49-yard pass and catch. Castle connected on each PAT to put the Cougars up 35-0 at the halftime break.

 

While three touchdowns in a game might seem spectacular, Horton wasn’t done just yet. Pulaski County received the kickoff to start the second half and Horton rambled 87 yards to the end zone. Castles PAT gave the Cougars the 42-0 lead and ended the night for most of the Cougar starters.

 

The fireworks did not end, however. A.J. McCloud took over the quarterback duties, completing both of his pass attempts for 43 yards. One of those passes went to James Jackson for a long gain and a first down. Several plays later junior Luke Russell barreled into the end zone from one yard out with 56 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Castles PAT was no good this time, leaving the Cougars up 48-0.

 

Freshman quarterback Drew Dalton came in to wrap up the game. After a short drive, sophomore kicker Broc Simpson made good on a 17-yard field goal attempt to give the final score of 51-0.

 

“Our defense did a good job tonight maintaining the shutout, but we want to continue to improve,” James said. “It’s always a good night when you can clear the sidelines, so we’ll enjoy that and the win for the weekend and then get back to work this week. We’re excited to be playing home finally this coming week.”

 

The Cougars earned 11 first downs in the game compared to six by the Colonels, but that stat is deceiving since most of the Cougar drives started on the Fleming side of the field.  The Cougars ran the ball 28 times for 119 yards and completed nine of 10 passes for 183 yards with one interception for 302 total yards.

 

William Fleming was held to -53 yards rushing on 33 attempts and completed seven of 12 passes for 110 yards for 57 total yards.

 

Finley was the leading Cougar rusher with six carries for 44 yards. Russell ran eight times for 28 yards. Horton ran once for 19 yards, Gage Mannon carried the ball five times for 14 yards. Noah O’Dell ran once for two yards, McCloud ran one time for two yards and freshman Keyonte Kennedy ran three times for five yards.

 

Kade Akers completed seven of eight pass attempts for 140 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. McCloud was good for both of his pass attempts for 43 yards.  Horton caught five passes for 118 yards. O’Dell caught two for 20 and Jackson caught two for 43 yards.

 

The Cougars will enjoy their home opener Friday, Sept. 7, when the Abingdon Falcons visit Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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