Cougars drop hard fought game to Tennessee High, 35-28
By MASON CLARK
In a game of back and forths, Pulaski County suffered their first loss of the season, falling to a tough Tennessee High Vikings squad in Dobson Stadium, 35-28. It was a game where it felt like we should’ve been winning by more when leading, and a game where we had our chances. But sometimes, especially with a new coach in his first campaign, it can slip away.
Things got off to a promising start. On the first play, after a bobbled snap, Chris Gallimore handed the ball to Trevor Burton. The senior ran through some contact, got loose and outran the Viking secondary all the way for an electric 80-yard score on the first play from scrimmage. Nathan Pratt’s PAT made it 7-0.
Tennessee High responded by putting a good drive together, moving it into Cougar territory, but on a fourth and short, the Cougar defense rose to the occasion and stopped the Vikings short.
The Cougars continued to move the football, this time a bit more methodically. They got all the way into the Tennessee red zone, but a fumbled quarterback-center exchange resulted in a lost fumble.
A chance to get off to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter is an opportunity you cannot afford to squander.
Tennessee High then went to the air, and a quick move in the open field by a Viking receiver resulted in a huge 57-yard gain into Cougar territory. A few plays later, a high snap actually worked out for Tennessee when the quarterback called his own number and found the end zone. The PAT knotted things up at seven apiece.
Pulaski County answered quickly.
Looking to respond, the Cougars went to Burton, who found some space, angled towards the left and outran the defense for another long score, this one 64 yards.
But the Vikings then patched together a slow drive, and again a botched snap went in their favor, and again we were tied up, this time at 14.
It was clear by now that it would be a good and thrilling game!
Another missed opportunity came in the final seconds of the second quarter.
The Cougars drove down the field, but bad execution on a couple plays ended the threat and this led the teams to go into the break tied at 14. Yes, it was still tied, but it certainly felt like we had our chances to have a lead.
Coming out in the second half, the Cougar defense was able to get a stop and force a punt. At about midfield, it was 3rd and 1. But two quarterback sneak attempts were stopped, and a turnover on downs ended the threat.
Then on the very next play, Tennessee dropped back and threw a bomb that resulted in a momentum-shifting score to make it 21-14 and gave the Vikings their first lead of the night.
The Vikings got another stop, then they took it for 63 yards on 10 plays and a three-yard score stretched the lead to 28-14 with under 8 minutes remaining.
Pulaski County punted on it’s next possession and was able to get a stop, and for the second week in a row, senior Evan Alger got his hand on a punt, and blocked it partially, enough to give the Cougars great field position.
Trevor Burton then took the ball a couple plays later and broke free again, finding paydirt for a hat-trick touchdown. That moved it to 28-21.
A Cougar onside kick attempt failed, and the Vikings appeared to just be trying to run out the clock, but their running back was able to squirt free and race to the end zone for a final nail in the coffin, moving the score to 35-21 with about two minutes remaining.
At least, it seemed that way. But Cougar senior Zach Parker had other ideas. He fielded the ensuing kickoff, weaved his way through an excellent hole opened up by the Cougar kick return team, and found his way down the sideline for a kick return score, the first in a while by a Cougars. This made it 35-28.
But the Vikings ran the clock out from here and got head coach Josh Holt his first win as THS coach.
Statistically, Burton was the man of the night again, running 14 times for 195 yards and 3 trips to the end zone, a 14-yard average. Sophomore Taner Mace ran 5 times for 27 yards, Parker twice for 22 yards, Tyler Underwood twice for 15 yards. Chris Gallimore was unable to get loose tonight, as he was held to just two yards rushing with Tennessee likely making it a point to take him out of things. He did complete 2 of 4 passes for 47 big yards though. Marcus Reed made an outstanding diving reception for 28 big yards, and Brett Jones continued his good season with a 19-yard catch, showing great body control on the sideline to haul it in.
Team stats show Tennessee having fourteen first downs, to ten by the Cougars. We ran it 34 times for 261 yards, the Vikings 48 times for 207 yards. The Vikings did great protecting their quarterback, leading to 5 completions on 9 pass attempts for 152 yards, including a touchdown pass.
The Cougars are now 1-1 and have a short week to get ready for Bluefield, a Thursday night game at Mitchell Stadium. Make the trip to support the Cougars against the Beavers!