Christiansburg– Pulaski County’s football team lost two fumbles, was penalized 13 times for 164 yards, had another kick blocked, and after an impressive first quarter, was pretty much sloppy the rest of the game. However, the Cougars won their 6th straight game, 42-28, moved to 6-1 on the season, and as they say, a win is a win. Christiansburg fell to 1-5.
PCHS head coach Stephen James was certainly pleased to win, but there was a lot to be concerned about. There were too many missed opportunities poor execution and penalties for the 7th game of the season. Undefeated Blacksburg is next up and there was not a person in the Cougar locker room that didn’t know that Friday night’s effort would not be good enough to beat the Bruins.
“No, that performance was not good enough to beat Blacksburg,” said James. “The 164 yards in penalties is something that must get better. Much of it was from a lack of focus, discipline. The blocked field goal was a blown assignment. We made some of the same mistakes we’ve made before.”
James knows he has a team with a lot of potential, but it must sharpen up at the most crucial time of the season. “We dropped wide open passes. We didn’t make plays when they were there to be made. We got the early lead and I guess we just thought we would coast home from there. Then we make mistakes, let Christiansburg get a little momentum. We should have put at least three more scores on the board, but we stopped ourselves. We have to play better. It’s that simple,” said James.
Pulaski County jumped off to a quick lead on a play action pass on the game’s second snap. A.J. McCloud hit Noah O’Dell down the hash at the Blue Demon’s 10 and he carried a defender the rest of the way. Next Gage Mannon scored on a four-yard run and it was 14-0 after just two possessions. Then early in the second quarter when it looked like the Cougars were driving for a third straight touchdown, the drive bogged down on a penalty and bobbled snap. Out came Ryan Castle for a field goal. It was blocked, Mason Stanley picked it up for the Demons and he ran 80 yards for a touchdown.
Kade Akers did not start at quarterback for the Cougars, and tailback Jakari Finley also did not start. Both were held out of action for the first quarter. Wide receiver E.J. Horton was held out of the game with a sore ankle.
But Pulaski County quickly assumed control of the game again before halftime. Akers it Xavier Cobbs on a slant pass for eight yards and a touchdown, and Mannon got another score on a five-yard run, and it was 28-7 Cougars at the half. They also drove and scored with their first possession of the second half and Mannon got his third touchdown on another five-yard run.
But the rest of the game was an assortment of poor execution, missed plays, and penalties that amounted to more than a length and a half of the football field. Then Christiansburg quarterback M.J. Hunter passed five yards for six to Conner Brizendine. Then he hit Caleb Henley for 39 and six more. Henley would catch another touchdowns passed from Hunter for 23 yards as he torched the Cougar secondary.
Akers added a marked on an 11-yard run for the Cougars and they were rapidly moving in for another touchdowns, when an errant snap and another penalty ended the threat. Demon possessions were kept alive with three puzzling roughing the passer penalties. On one play Finley had a 20-yard run for a first down, fumbled when he was tackled, and the Cougars were hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and following Akers last touchdown the same thing happened again.
The Cougar defense limited the Demons to just 48 yards rushing on 26 carries. Just about the entire offensive production for the Demons, 248 yards, came on Hunter passes to Henley who caught seven for a stunning 178 yards.
Pulaski County totaled 473 yards of offense, 267 rushing and 206 passing. Akers ran 13 times for 96 yards, Finley 16 times for 96, Mannon 22 times for 73, and Luke Russell two for two. McCloud was four of five passing for 84 yards and a touchdown with most of that coming on the big 52-yard score to O’Dell. Akers was seven of 15 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown. O’Dell caught five passes for 110 yards, Mannon one for 12, Cody Gibbs two for 28, Cobbs one for eight, and Logan Burchett one for 44.
The 6-1 Cougars will face 7-0 Blacksburg in Dobson Stadium next Friday.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot