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Cougar defense returns, offense improves

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

The Pulaski County football team earned 147 yards on the ground and 87 more through the air while holding the Christiansburg Blue Demons to just 66 total yards of offense Friday, winning their sixth game of the season 14-6.

 

It was enough.

 

With senior starter Gage Mannon, junior defensive back Corvin Carter and several others out of the game before it even started, Pulaski County had to dig into their depth chart to find players to fill the spots left open. The Cougars answered the call to action and go the job done, becoming a better overall football team in the process.

 

“We had some young men step in tonight and fill in some gaps for us,” Cougar Head Coach Stephen James said. “When you have key players out you find out what kind of heart your team has. I think our guys went out there and gave a good showing and I’m proud of them for that.”

 

Christiansburg won the coin toss and elected to take the ball, immediately finding out if the battle scarred Cougar defense was going to be up to the test. That first drive ended in a punt by the Blue Demons, giving the Pulaski County offense the ball at the Cougar 41-yard line.

 

The Cougar offense has been questioned all season. Friday night they answered the opening bell by taking the ball 59 yards in 10 plays. The touchdown came on a one-yard run by senior Chris Shay with 6:10 remaining in the first. Broc Simpson added the extra-point to put Pulaski County up 7-0.

 

The Cougar defense continued play tough, grudgingly giving up short yardage plays as the Blue Demons earned three first downs before Pulaski County shut them down again.

 

The two teams battled back and forth until a Cougar punt was returned to the Pulaski County 26-yard line by the Blue Demons. Four plays later Christiansburg quarterback MJ Hunter hit Jake Clemons on a 15-yard scoring strike. The Blue Demons were hit with a penalty before they attempted the extra-point, pushing them back five yards. The kick hit the upright and was no good, leaving the Cougars up 7-6.

 

Christiansburg stopped a Cougar drive when Hunter intercepted an AJ McCloud pass near the end of the first quarter. Pulaski County shut down the Blue Demons offense for the remainder of the game, only allowing a few hard-earned yards occasionally and even fewer first downs. Christiansburg stopped a Cougar drive when Hunter intercepted an AJ McCloud pass near the end of the first quarter.

 

The Cougars missed a chance to expand the lead in the second quarter when a 46-yard field goal attempt by Simpson was short.

 

Pulaski County took over in the fourth quarter after a defensive stop. A 16-yard pass from McCloud to Layne Suthers was mostly negated by a holding penalty, but the Cougars continued to push. McCloud showed heart on a 17-yard rush, bowling over Blue Demon defenders on his way to a first down. Four plays later Shay found the end zone for a second time, this time from two yards out with 9:02 remaining in the game. Simpson hit the PAT despite a penalty that pushed it back five yards, giving the Cougars the 14-6 lead.

 

It looked like Pulaski County had tackled Hunter for a big loss, but a questionable horse collar penalty negated that play. Christiansburg continued to push until a pass from Hunter was intercepted by McCloud, who returned it to the Christiansburg five-yard line. Another Cougar penalty moved the ball back to the 45-yard line.

 

Christiansburg attempted to stop the Cougar offense, but Pulaski County did just enough to earn the first down and the win, 14-6.

 

“It wasn’t the prettiest win, but it was a win,” Coach James said. “Obviously we need to get a few more people back from the injury list, but I’m really proud of the way our guys pulled together out there. Our injured players were helping coach up the other guys. The guys who were put out there stepped things up and got it done. We need to get some more of our folks healthy and ready to play. Things are going to continue to pick up over the next few weeks for sure.”

 

The Cougar finished the game with 43 carries for 147 yards while Christiansburg had 29 carries for just 45 yards. McCloud completed eight of 14 pass attempts with one interception for 87 yards. Hunter completed two of 12 passes with one interception for 21 yards. The Cougars were hit with 10 penalties for 95 yards. Christiansburg had five penalties for 30 yards. The Cougars gained 10 first downs compared to six for the Blue Demons.

 

In other games of interest around the area, Abingdon defeated Virginia High 49-13, Richlands defeated Tazewell 41-0, Carroll County defeated Giles 33-10, Galax defeated Fort Chiswell 52-0, Radford won over James River 42-13, Blacksburg defeated Cave Spring 55-3, Narrows beat Covington 42-14, Salem defeated Patrick Henry 51-34, Auburn won 52-6 over Grayson County, Lord Botetourt beat William Byrd 41-7, Floyd County beat Alleghany 49-14, Eastern Montgomery defeated Bath County 36-18, Northside beat William Fleming 34-9, EC Glass defeated LCA 47-28 and Brookville beat Amherst County 48-6.

 

Game Stats

First Downs
PC: 10
CB: 6

Rushing
PC: 43 att/147yards
CB: 29att/45 yards

Passing
PC: 8-14-1/87 yards
CB: 2-13-1/21 yards

Total Yards
PC: 234 yards
CB: 66 yards

Penalties
PC: 10/95 yards
CB: 5/30 yards

Return Yards
PC: 76
CB: 101

Individual Stats
Rushing
PC: Shay 16/75 yards, McCloud 10/43, Kennedy 14/31, Dotson 2/-4, Lyman 1/2
CB: Stanley 13/31 yards, Hunter 11/12, Lloyd 1/-4, Simpkins 4/6

Passing
PC: McCloud 8-14-1/87 yards
CB: Hunter1/12/1/21 yards, Lloyd 0-1/0 yards

Receiving
PC: Lyman 4/56 yards, Dotson 2/11, Suthers 2/16
CB: Clemons 2/21

Interceptions
PC: McCloud
CB: Hunter

Fumble Recoveries
PC: Russell
CB: none

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