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Cougars drop heartbreaker to Patriots, 23-24

David Gravely/SWT – Diego Turner gets to Patrick Henry quarterback Roy Gunn Friday.





What should have been a joyful locker room was not Friday. Pulaski County missed too many opportunities, falling in their first game under Head Coach Mark Dixon. The final score: Pulaski County 23, Patrick Henry 24.


“You look back and it doesn’t take long to see what got us,” Dixon said. “Too many penalties that put us behind the chains. You can’t do that against a good team and expect to win. Our kids gave a great effort, but we just couldn’t overcome those penalties. Hat’s off to Coach Fiddler and his program. We’ll get back to work immediately.”


For most of the game it looked like Pulaski County was just on the verge of pulling off the win, only to have a penalty nullify a good play or put the Cougars in a long yardage situation.


Patrick Henry got on the board first with a five-yard run with 2:47 remaining in the first quarter. The point after attempt was no good, leaving the Patriots up  6-0.


Pulaski County answered right away. After taking the kickoff to the 40-yard line, the Cougars put together an 11 play drive to put the ball in the endzone when Keyonte Kennedy barreled in from four yards out with 9:37 remaining in the second quarter. Broc Simpson hit the PAT to put the Cougars up 7-6.


The Cougars looked even better when Simpson hit a 42-yard field goal with 2:54 remaining in the half, moving the score to 10-6 for the Cougars.


“We should have put that one in the endzone,” Dixon said. “We made a few mistakes that the film will point out when we watch it. We can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot like that.”


Patrick Henry answered two minutes later when quarterback Roy Gunn connected on a seven-yard pass for the score. The two-point conversion was no good, leaving the Patriots up 12-10 with 51 seconds remaining.


Pulaski County answered the call again. This time John Lyman returned the kickoff 49 yards to the Patriot 36-yard line. A 23-yard pass from Drew Dalton to Lyman go the Cougars close. A 13-yard scoring strike to Trevor Burton with 24 seconds remaining put the Cougars back in the driver’s seat. Simpson hit the PAT to move the score to  17-12 for the Cougars.


The Cougars took the second half kickoff and began to drive again. It took 12 plays, 14 if you count the two illegal procedure penalties against the Cougars, but Pulaski County found themselves at the Patriot eight-yard line. A pass from Dalton was intercepted in the endzone to end the drive.


Patrick Henry went back to work. A combination of the ground game and air attack kept the Cougars off balance. With 24 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Gunn was good for another touchdown pass, this time a five-yarder. The two-point conversion was no good, leaving the Patriots up 18-17.


The Cougars went back on the attack, but again penalties hurt their cause. With 9:37 remaining in the game, Dalton called his own number and ran it in from one yard out. The Cougars attempted a two-point conversion, but despite Dalton appearing to clearly be halfway into the endzone with the ball, the officials made no call. Finally, he was ruled short, despite him being in the endzone, and the two-point was called no good. The Cougars led 23-18.


“We should have had control at that point, and we didn’t,” Dixon said. “I didn’t think we played with as much composure tonight. Patrick Henry is a heck of a ball team. You can’t make the mistakes we made. You can’t keep giving them opportunities.”


The Patriots put together a late drive, scoring on a 24-yard pass with 4:11 remaining. Their final two-point conversion failed, leaving the score at 24-23 for the Patriots.


With one last chance, the Cougars attempted to get into field goal range. Penalties again caused the Cougars to be behind the chains. With the ball on the 49-yard line, Dalton attempted to connect with Jacob Johnson down the home sideline. While it appeared that the Patrick Henry defender clearly interfered with his attempt to catch the ball, no flag was thrown. Two plays later the Cougars turned the ball over on downs.


The Cougars defense forced a punt, but unfortunately it went all the way to their own four-yard line. Dalton hit Layne Suthers for 21 yards after an incompletion on first down and spiked the ball. His next pass was intercepted to end the game.


“I think we’re going to learn a lot from this game,” Dixon said. “Like I said, great effort by the kids, but the mistakes just added up. I’ve got to do a better job of having us prepared because I don’t think we were as ready as we should have been tonight. We’ll get back to work Monday and start putting together a plan for Salem.”


A quick look at the stats show just how close the game was. Pulaski County had 354 total yards of offense. Patrick Henry had 349 yards. The Cougars had 17 first downs, the Patriots had 19. The Cougars controlled the ground game with 180 yards on 41 carries, while the Cougar defense held the Patriots to just 53 yards rushing on 29 carries. The Patriots completed 17 of 29 pass attempts for 296 yards. The Cougars were good for just nine of 20 pass attempts for 174 yards, but with two key interceptions.


“This one falls on me,” Dixon told his team in the locker room. “I’ll have you ready and better prepared the next time. I’ve got to put you in a better position to be successful. This is our first loss together. I’ve lost games before. All we can do is learn from it and get better. We still have a lot of goals in front of us this season.”


The Cougars will travel to Salem next week to face the Spartans, who defeated Hidden Valley 42-0.


Game Stats

Team Stats
PC: 41 att/180 yards
PH: 29 att/53 yards

PC: 9-20-2/174 yards
PH: 17-29-0 /296 yards

Total Yards
PC: 354
PH: 349

First Downs
PC: 17
PH: 19

PC: 2/40 yd avg
PH: 3/20 yd avg

PC: 10/65 yds
PH: 3/20

Return Yards
PC: 106
PH: 38

PC: 1/0
PH: 1-1

Individual Stats
PC: Gallimore 16/107, Kennedy 12/38, Gallimore 5/26, Dalton 8/9, Porter 5/26
PH: #22 18/50, #3 8/3, #6 2/1, #18 1/-1

PC: Dalton 9-20-2/174
PH: Gunn 17-29-0/296

PC: Bishop 1/9, Lyman 4/116, burton 1/13, Gallimore 2/25
PH: #4 6/76, #7 3/43, #1 1/15, #14 4/81, #11 2/72

PH: #9, #23

Fumble Recoveries
PC: Bishop

Scoring Summary
1st QTR
PH 2:17 #22 5 yd run
PAT no good
6-0 PH

2nd QTR
PC 9:37 4 yd run
Kennedy PAT 19
7-6 PC
PC 2:54 42 yd FG 19
10-6 PC
PH :51 7 yd pass
#3 to #4
2 pt ng 12-10 PH
PC :24 13 yd pass
Dalton to Burton
PAT 19, 17-12 PC

3rd QTR
PH :24 5 yd pass
3 to 4, 2 pt ng
18-17 PH

4th QTR
PC 9:37 1 yd run
Dalton, 2 pt ng
23-18 PC
PH 4:11 24 yd pass
2 pt ng 24-23 PH



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