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Cougars fall in shootout with Eagles

David Gravely/SWT – Junior running back Keyonte Kennedy looks for room to run Thursday in Danville.

 

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

 

The Cougar football team came out of the gate hot Thursday in Danville. Leading by two scores halfway through the first quarter, the Cougars eventually fell behind but mounted a comeback of their own that fell just short. When the final horn sounded, the Cougars fell 35-42 to end the season.

 

“We made some mistakes out there tonight but I thought our effort was outstanding,” Cougar Head Coach Mark Dixon said. “I’ve seen teams fall behind and pack it in, but this team kept fighting. Hats off to Danville for showing that same kind of heart. This was a great high school football game, we just ended up on the wrong side of things.”

 

The Cougars led 7-0 with 5:03 remaining in the first quarter after senior quarterback Drew Dalton hit senior Ethan Gallimore on a 10-yard touchdown pass and the point after kick by senior Broc Simpson.

 

Pulaski County took advantage of another opportunity when Gallimore hit Eagle quarterback Jeb Byrnes in the backfield and forced a fumble. Sophomore Diego Turner scooped up the loose ball and raced 14 yards for the score. Simpson hit the PAT to make the score 14-0 with 4:51 remaining in the first.

 

Then the Eagles woke up. A big kickoff return gave Danville excellent field position. A big run and a short pass moved the ball inside the 20, then another pass and run put the ball at the Cougar 1-yard line. Shakobe Hairstone bulled his way into the endzone on the next play with 2:24 remaining in the first. Daniel Deandrea hit the PAT to move the score to 14-7.

 

Shortly after the start of the second quarter, the Eagles struck again. A long touchdown pass was nullified by a hold, but with 9:12 remaining in the half Byrnes found Zavion King open for a 27-yard scoring strike. The PAT by Deandrea tied the game at 14-14.

 

The Cougars went back to work, but on the third play of their next drive the ball popped loose and was scooped up by Ahmad Poole, who raced 35 yards for the score. The PAT moved the Eagles ahead 21-14 with 7:39 remaining in the half.

 

The Cougars tied the game back up with 4:08 remaining before halftime when sophomore Quemaar Porter capped off a nine play drive when he rumbled into the endzone from six yards out. Simpsons kick was good, putting the score at 21-21.

 

The Cougars took the opening kickoff of the second half, but were forced to punt. The Eagles put together a 16-play drive that ended when Hairston walked into the endzone from one yard out at the 3:51 mark of the third. The kick moved the score to 28-21 for the Eagles.

 

Lightning struck again when Willie Edmunds broke through the Cougar line and raced 57 yards for the score. With 2:30 remaining in the third, the PAT put the Eagles up 35-21.

 

The Eagles added a final score when Edmunds rolled into the endzone from seven yards out with 7:19 remaining in the game. The kick put the Eagles up 42-21 and it looked like the game was over.

 

The Cougars had something to say about that. Junior John Lyman returned the kickoff deep into Eagle territory. A big pass from Dalton and a short run put the ball at the Eagle two-yard line. With 6:18 remaining junior Keyonte Kennedy slipped through the defenders to score. The PAT was blocked, leaving the Cougars behind 42-27.

 

Rarely do you see a high school onside kick work out, but when Simpson put his toe to the ball it hit in front of a Danville player and bounced over his head, where senior Layne Suthers made a leaping snag to give the Cougars the ball at the 45-yard line. A big pass to Lyman moved the ball to the Danville 12-yard line. A short run and incomplete pass left the Cougars with third down and nine from the 11. Dalton dropped back and found senior Corvin Carter just inside the endzone for the score. With 6:12 remaining, Dalton connected with Lyman for the two-point conversion, leaving the Cougars behind 42-35.

 

The Cougar defense came up with a big stop on fourth down and short when senior Chayton Rollins got to the ball carrier in the backfield.

 

Dalton began marching the team down the field for the tying score as the clock ticked away. With 53 seconds remaining and the Cougars at the 23-yard line, a pass from Dalton was intercepted by Zavion King at the two-yard line to end the game.

 

“I’m proud of our guys,” Dixon said. “You never like to lose, but our kids gave a solid effort. We can’t thank our seniors enough for all they’ve done for the program and we wish them the best moving forward. Our younger players know what’s going to be expected. We’ve got a lot of work to do and it’s going to start very quickly. We’ll have a fast turnaround this year.”

 

With the loss the Cougar season comes to an end with a final record of 4-3. Danville will advance to play the winner of the Salem versus Amherst County game next week.

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