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Cougars begin Dixon era with shutout win

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

 

Pulaski County welcomed new Head Coach Mark Dixon to the Cougar Nation Monday in style with a 42-0 road win over the Cave Spring Knights.

 

“We made mistakes and we have a long way to go, but this was a good start,” Dixon said. “I thought overall we did some good things and we also saw some things we need to fix. I liked our effort and hustle. Considering that we’ve only really been on the practice field one time, I thought our guys adapted very well. This is a crazy time for all of us. This was our first time attempting a live punt, a punt return, an extra point … to have all that going on and still perform was really good to see. Our kids are very resilient.”

David Gravely/SWT – Junior Keyonte Kennedy led the Cougar rushing attack.

 

The two teams came out looking rusty in the first quarter, but eventually Pulaski County began to move the ball on the ground. The Cougars started the scoring when senior Drew Dalton found senior Will Bishop open for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Senior Broc Simpson connected for the point after to put Pulaski County up 7-0 with 5:23 remaining in the second quarter.

 

The Cougars got the ball to start the second half and wasted no time increasing their lead. With 8:59 remaining in the third, Dalton found senior Chase Dotson open moving down the home side of the field. Dotson made the catch and raced 49 yards for the score. Simpson’s PAT moved the score to 14-0 for the Cougars.

 

David Gravely/SWT – Senior quarterback Drew Dalton takes the ball in from one yard out.

The Cougar defenders did an outstanding job shutting down the Knights, giving the ball back to Pulaski County. With 5:10 remaining in the third quarter Dalton capped off a strong Cougar drive that featured a mix of the ground game and air attack by pushing into the endzone from one yard out. Simpson hit his third PAT to move the score to 21-0.

 

Cave Spring was pushed deep inside their own territory and set up to punt, but a Cougar player was called for roughing the punter to give the Knight drive new life. On the next play Dotson stepped up to intercept a Knight pass and raced to the endzone but was called down at the 1-yard line. Two plays later Dalton called his own number for his second rushing touchdown of the evening. The PAT by Simpson put the Cougars ahead 28-0 heading into the final quarter.

 

With the game in hand and a sideline full of fresh players, Dixon began to sub players into the game. Sophomore quarterback Cam Cooper took over with sophomore Quemaar Porter in the backfield. After two nice runs by Porter gained six yards, a mix up on the handoff resulted in the first Pulaski County turnover of the night.

David Gravely/SWT – Senior Chase Dotson returned this interception to the one-yard line.

 

Disappointed, Porter redeemed himself on the very next play with a 38-yard interception return. With 9:05 remaining in the fourth quarter, Simpson hit his fifth PAT to put Pulaski County up 35-0 and move the game to a running clock.

 

The Cougar defense continued to hold the Knights in check. On the next offensive play for the Knights, a combination of sophomore Evan Alger and freshman Tyler Underwood knocked the ball loose from a Knight running back. Underwood recovered the ball to put the Cougars back in business.

 

Cooper went back into offensive mode, handing the ball off to sophomore Trevor Burton. After earning two yards on a play that should have resulted in a loss, Burton pulled two Knight defenders for another seven-yard gain. After a short run by Cooper moved the ball to the Knight 8-yard line, Burton ran for a 2-yard gain and then a 5-yard sprint into the endzone. The PAT by Simpson put the Cougars up 42-0 with 5:04 remaining in the game.

 

The Knights attempted to gain some momentum in the final moments against a host of Cougar backups, but again the Cougar defense held.

 

Junior Keyonte Kennedy led the Cougar rushing attack with 19 carries for 69 yards. Dalton ran seven times for -2 yards. Simpson had one run on a broken punt attempt for -19 yards. Porter carried the ball five times for six yards. Burton had four carries for 16 yards. Cooper had one carry for one yard.

 

Dalton completed six of nine pass attempts for 150 yards. Senior Ethan Gallimore caught three of those passes for 36 yards. Senior Will Bishop caught one pass for 13 yards. Dotson caught one pass for 49 yards. Junior Jacob Johnson caught one pass for 42 yards, coming up just short of the goal line.

 

Pulaski County intercepted two Cave Spring passes, one by Dotson and one by Porter. Tyler Underwood recovered a fumble for the Cougars.

 

The Cougar defense held the Knights to just 73 yards rushing on 27 attempts. The Knights completed five of 17 pass attempts for just 23 yards with two interceptions. The Cougars earned 233 total yards while holding the Knights to just 96 total yards.

 

“We learned a lot tonight,” Dixon said. “When we break down the film, I think we’re going to see that we missed some opportunities but considering the circumstances it was a good overall effort. We feel very blessed to have been able to get out and play tonight. We really appreciate our school administration, school board and school system for helping us make it happen and for being so supportive of all our athletes. We’re going to work hard to get better. I see a lot of potential in this team.”

 

The Cougars will have a short week to prepare for their next game, as they are scheduled to host the Hidden Valley Titans Saturday, Feb. 27, at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium. Game time Saturday is currently set for 3 p.m.

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