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Cougars take another step in right direction

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

 

The Cougar football team scored on offense, defense and special teams Saturday as five different Cougars found the endzone on their way to a 48-7 win over the Hidden Valley Titans.

David Gravely/SWT – Keyonte Kennedy follows his blockers for yardage Saturday.

 

“It wasn’t always pretty, but overall, I was happy with the effort our guys gave out there,” Cougar Head Coach Mark Dixon said. “Our goal is to win, but that isn’t the final measure of success. The main thing we want to do at this point is keep fixing things. We need to get better at every position. I think we took another step in the right direction today, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”

 

It looked like the Cougars would start things off with a bang when junior John Lyman took the opening kickoff deep in Cougar territory, cut toward the home sideline, zigged and then zagged his way all the way to the endzone. Unfortunately, the Cougars were called for an illegal block in the back and the touchdown was called back. The Cougars ended their first drive with a punt.

 

With a wet playing field and more mud than grass, both teams had trouble running the ball. Pulaski County finally broke the stalemate when junior Keyonte Kennedy raced around the left side of the Cougar line on his way to a 16-yard touchdown run. Senior placekicker Broc Simpson was good for the point after kick, putting the Cougars up 7-0 with 1:18 remaining in the first quarter.

 

Hidden Valley answered quickly. Quarterback Sam Dragovich found wideout Tyler McDaniel open down the seam and he raced 57 yards for the score. Brody Layman kicked the PAT to tie the score at 7-7.

 

The Cougars went back to work on offense, but the ground game continued to be a tough task to master. Senior quarterback Drew Dalton found senior Chase Dotson down the visitor sideline for a 34-yard scoring strike with 6:10 remaining. Simpson hit the PAT to put the Cougars up 14-7.

 

With time running out in the first half, the Cougar defense rose to the occasion, shutting the Titans down. Pulaski County took over deep in Titan territory and began to drive. With 3:10 left on the clock, Dalton called his own number and pushed through just far enough to break the goal line from one yard out. Simpson connected for the PAT to put the Cougars up 21-7.

 

Another big defensive hit from the Cougars, this time by senior Will Bishop, forced a fumble that was recovered by junior Caleb Yelton. The Cougars couldn’t take advantage of the break and the teams went into the halftime break.

 

Hidden Valley got the ball to start the second half, but the Cougar defense forced a punt. With 8:01 remaining in the third Dalton found senior Layne Suthers open down the home sideline. Suthers bobbled the ball for about 15 yards then raced 77 yards for the score. Simpson kicked the PAT to put the Cougars up 28-7.

David Gravely/SWT – Layne Suthers bobbled and then caught this pass for a 77-yard score.

 

The next score was the type of thing movies are made of. Senior Clay Phillips broke through the Titan punt team and blocked a punt attempt deep in Titan territory. The senior lineman rushed forward, grabbed the loose ball and dove into the endzone for the score with 11:53 remaining in the game. Simpson’s kick moved the score to 35-0 and the feeding frenzy was on.

 

With 9:52 remaining, Suthers stepped in front of a pass attempt from Dragovich and raced 60 yards for the score. The kick from Simpson was no good, his first miss of the season, leaving Pulaski County up 41-7.

 

Attempting to run the clock out with the running game, Kennedy broke free again down the visitor’s side, this time on a 23-yard scoring run. Simpson hit the PAT to move the score to 48-7 Cougars.

 

With time running out, Hidden Valley attempted another drive and were able to earn first downs and move the ball near midfield. A Titan pass from Dragovich went deep, but sophomore Quemaar Porter made a great move to earn his second interception of the season. The Cougars took a knee to end the game.

 

The Cougars and Titans each earned 11 first downs. Pulaski County ran the ball 30 times for just 95 yards. Hidden Valley attempted 29 runs, earning just six yards. Dalton completed eight of 15 passes with one interception for 198 yards. Dragovich hit 13 of 33 pass attempts for 155 yards with three interceptions. The Cougars earned 293 total yards. Hidden Valley earned 161 total yards. The Cougars were hit with 10 penalties for 80 yards. Hidden Valley had eight for 65 yards.

 

Kennedy led the Cougar rushing attack with 73 yards on 19 carries. Trevor Burton ran seven times for 23 yards. Dalton ran three times for no gain. Porter had one carry for a loss of one yard.

 

Dotson caught two passes for 45 yards. Junior Jacob Johnson caught three for 34 yards. Ethan Gallimore caught two passes for 43 yards and Suthers caught one for 77 yards.

 

The Cougars benefited from four turnovers including three interceptions, two from Suthers and one from Porter, and the fumble recovery from Yelton.

 

“It’s hard to say a lot until we look at the film, but I think we did show some improvement today,” Dixon said. “We’ve got to get our running game in gear, we’ve got to throw the ball better and we’ve got to block better. Defensively we look OK, but we still make little mistakes here and there. We’ve got to lock that down. I think these two games have been a good learning experience for us, but things get a lot tougher from here on out. Christiansburg is a much better team this season. Blacksburg has some injuries, but you can’t take anyone lightly. Patrick Henry is a tough team, then you’ve got Salem. We’ve got to get a lot better quick.”

 

The Cougars will be back in action Friday, March 5, on the road in Christiansburg. Game time for that matchup is set for 7 p.m.

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