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Final flag costly in Cougar loss

David Gravely/SWT – Senior Keyontae Kennedy races to the endzone Friday against James Wood.




With just under two minutes remaining in the game Friday night, Cougar sophomore Brett Jones made the play of the game.


James Wood player Jaden Ashby took the snap from the wildcat formation and sent a pass to the endzone on the far side of the field. Jones and the Colonel receiver both went up. Jones came down with the ball. Pulaski County, despite injuries to key starters had found a way. All they had to do was run the final minute and a half out to move to 3-0.


At around the 30-yard line, a yellow piece of cloth was on the field. When the ball was snapped, a Cougar assistant was two steps on the field sending in signals. For over three hours the officials had allowed the Cougar coaches to make those calls and then step back. This time, the official threw a flag.


As the officials gathered to discuss it, it was clear that it should have been a sideline warning on the Cougars. There had been no other flags on the Cougar sideline throughout the entire game. There had been no warning from that official that if the coaches didn’t back up, he would flag them. Instead of a sideline warning, the officials decided that the Cougar assistant being on the field, nearly 65 yards away from the play, was a personal foul, 15 yards against the Cougars. First down James Wood.


On the next play, quarterback Jared Neal found wideout Ryan King open for what turned into a 14-yard touchdown pass. The point after was no good, but the damage was done.


James Wood 34, Pulaski County 33. Final.


Cougar Head Coach Mark Dixon questioned the call on the field, but after the game while talking to his team he refused to discuss it.


“I am so proud of this team,” Dixon said. “To take a group that was already young and got even younger just before game time, and then to see them battle out there like they did tonight … I love these guys. We’re heading in the right direction, there is no question. These kids played their guts out tonight. That was a pretty good ball team out there against us and we fought tooth and nail. I’ll take that effort any time. I’m just really proud of our guys.”


Pulaski County outgained James Wood in total yardage 483 yards to 427. The Cougars ran the ball 46 times for 221 yards. James Wood gained 210 yards rushing on 28 attempts. Pulaski County had 25 first downs compared to 14 for the Colonels.


Cougar quarterback Cam Cooper completed 15 of 26 pass attempts for 262 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. The final one was after the questionable call on the Cougar sideline as Cooper was attempting to make a play. The Colonels completed 12 of 25 pass attempts for 217 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Lyman made that interception for the Cougars.


Keyontae Kennedy ran the ball 35 times for 182 yards. John Lyman ran six times for 43. Cooper ran five times, but due to sacks he finished with -4 yards.


Jonathan Brondos ran the ball 18 times for the Colonels gaining 178 yards. Ashby ran five times for 36 yards and Zachary Smith ran once for a yard.


JJ Gulley caught seven passes for 145 yards for the Cougars. Lyman had five catches for 104 yards and Tyler Underwood caught three for 13 yards. Zach Parker had one catch, but it was for no gain.


The Cougars opened the scoring when Cooper found Lyman open for a pass that ended up going 69 yards for the score. Nathan Pratt hit the PAT to put the Cougars up 7-0 with 5:35 remaining in the first quarter.


Brondos found running room for the Colonels and raced 16 yards at the 4:51 mark for the score. Hunter Barnhart hit the PAT to tie the game at seven all.


With 57 second left in the first, Kennedy ran over Colonels on his way to a 21-yard score. The PAT by Pratt was no good, and the Cougars led 13-7.


After swapping punts back and forth, the Cougars struck again just before the half. Cooper ran the ball in from one yard out and Pratt hit the PAT to put the Cougars up 20-7 with three minutes remaining. James Wood returned the favor again, this time on an 85-yard kickoff return by Ashby. Barnhart hit the PAT to bring the score to 20-14 in favor of the Cougars.


Pulaski County struck first to open the second half. Cooper earned another one yard scoring run with 4:15 on the clock in the third. Pratt hit the PAT and the Cougars were back on top 27-14.


The Colonels battled back again. First Jared Neal hit Ashby on a 44-yard scoring pass with 3:26 left in the third. Then Ashby ran the ball in from 23 yards out at the 10:53 mark of the fourth quarter. Barnhart hit both PAT’s to put James Wood up 28-27.


Cooper completed a pass to Lyman for a 13-yard touchdown. A two-point pass attempt failed and the Cougars led 33-28 with 9:38 remaining.


The two teams traded possessions with Pulaski County making two solid stops until the questionable call that took the game out of the players hands. Neal hit King on the 14-yard touchdown pass and the Barnhart hit the PAT to give the Colonels the 34-33 lead and win.


“Hey, hats off to James Wood, that was a great game and they have a solid program,” Coach Dixon said. “I’m so proud of our guys though. We had a freshman center starting in his first varsity game. Another freshman was playing on defense at safety, his first varsity start. We had several sophomores playing on both sides of the ball. Brett is a sophomore and made a play that should have won the game for us. All of our kids played their guts out and that’s all we can ask of them. We’ll do some film work and keep them working some next week during the off week, but I’m excited about the rest of this season. These kids are working hard and we’re going to get better.”


With the loss, the Cougars move to 2-1 on the season and will host Cave Spring Friday, Sept. 24, in what will be the Cougar homecoming game.



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