Hillsville– Pulaski County’s passing game was full of fireworks Friday night as the Cougars rolled over Carroll County, 49-6 for their third straight win. PCHS is now 3-1 on the season, Carroll 1-3.
Quarterback Kade Akers was perfect on his first six passes and finished 10 of 12 for the game for 231 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver E.J. Horton was his main target, catching four aerials for 140 yards and three of the scores. Akers is quickly closing in on PCHS passing records. The season record for yards passing is 1,074, and Akers already had 847 in four games, and he played just one series in the second half at Hillsville. The single game passing record is 266 yards, and he has a game of 257 yards. The most touchdown passes in a season is 10, and Akers already has nine. He came within one of the single game record Friday.
But once in total control of the game of the game, Cougar head coach Stephen James got everybody in a gold hat playing time, and a lot of it. The second half was all about running the ball. Nine players carried the mail for the Cougars for a total of 225 yards on 42 rushes.
Defensively Pulaski County allowed a deflected pass to turn into a 50-yard touchdown and that prevented a shutout. Carroll gained only four net yards on 23 runs, and hit four of 12 passes for 100, but Jacob Motley was intercepted three times, and one of them was returned in the third quarter for what appeared to be a 90-yard touchdown for Kellen Dalton, but the officials ruled there was an illegal block on the play. The pick stood, but the touchdown was not allowed. It marked the third time this season that a penalty has nullified a Cougar score. The first two times it had an effect on the game, but not this night. Pulaski Co. finished with 456 total yards.
“We’ve won three straight, and that’s good. Now we need to focus on getting four. We passed it well, ran it well, played good defense, everybody got to play, and there were no injuries. That’s a good night,” said James. The Cougars return home to play Cave Spring next Friday.
Pulaski County now has six receivers to catch at least one pass on the season,. In addition to Horton, that would be Dalton, Mason Clark, Braeden Blevins, Noah O’Dell, and Noah Bradley. Horton, Dalton, and Clark have combined for multiple touchdown catches, and Bradley has a two-point conversion catch. Receiver coach Mike Souma said following the game, “I’ve had the pleasure to coach some really good receivers, but collectively, this is the best group I’ve ever coached.”
The first touchdown came on a 20-yard crossing pattern from Akers to Horton. The second score came on a 26-yard pass from Akers to Horton over the middle. The third touchdown came on a six-yard fade from Akers to Dalton. Then on a third and 18, Akers threw a bullet deep down the middle on a post route and hit Horton in stride for a 63-yard touchdown. The first running score came on a four-year Jaceri Eaves run with 2:22 left in the first half. It was, 35-6 at the break.
In the second half Akers played just one series, and soon Cougar players began rotating in and out. Akers threw just one pass the second half. Many junior varsity players saw considerable action, and the offense kept moving the ball. It was a grind it out offense the second half with a continuous clock.
Sophomore tailback Gage Mannon scored in the third quarter on a 25-yard run. On the final offensive play of the third quarter freshman Jacari Finley scored from three yards out for the final, 49-6 tally. Mannon’s touchdown was setup by a pass interception by linebacker Alex Akers. Mannon also had a pick in the game. Clark threw a two-point conversion pass to Bradley in the first half, and Ryan Castle hit five point after kicks.
In addition to Horton’s four receptions for 140 yards and three touchdowns, Dalton had three for 44 and a score, Bradley had one for 25, O’Dell one for 12, and Clark one for nine. Eaves had 56 yards rushing on 12 attempts and a touchdown, Mannon 43 on five and a touchdown, Finley had 34 on six and a touchdown, Devin Hunter 28 on eight runs, Wes Riddle 29 yards on four carries, Jaylin Nowlin 21 on four carries, Dalton two for four, and James Jackson one for two.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot