By MASON CLARK
The Pulaski County Cougars had a stiff challenge on Friday night in Dobson Stadium. They welcomed the big, strong and athletic Patrick Henry Patriots to Joel Hicks Field for the forty ninth meeting between the two. And for the ninth time in the past twelve meetings, the Patriots got the best of us, winning convincingly by a score of 56-27. The loss drops Pulaski County to 4-5 on the year, and makes next week’s game at Christiansburg an absolute must-win ball game if we want a chance at postseason football.
The game started explosively. The Cougars won the toss, and elected to receive. And that was a good decision, as just a few plays in, junior Tyler Underwood took a pitch from Chris Gallimore and ran 53 yards to strike first. Nathan Pratt hit the PAT, and it was 7-0 Cougars.
That’s when the extremely explosive Patriot offense took the field. Quarterback Joey Beasley went to work, as did an outstanding group of skill players featuring blue chip four-star recruit Carmelo Taylor who is committed to Penn State, Jahzae Kimbrough, Chuck Webb and Sidney Webb. After a drive full of chunk plays, Beasley hit Taylor across the middle for a 15-yard touchdown pass. The PAT tied it up at 7.
After a few empty drives for both teams, the Patriots looked poised to get back up. A quick screen to Kimbrough, who is also getting a lot of D1 looks, made some beautiful cuts and raced for a 96-yard touchdown, but it only counted for about 30 because of a penalty. But just a few plays later, Kimbrough would get his touchdown on a 14-yard run. The PAT was no good though, and it left the score 13-7.
The Cougars would actually take the lead for a few seconds. Trevor Burton broke free for a 51-yard run, which set up his 3-yard scoring run. Pratt’s PAT made it 14-13 in favor of the Cougars with 2:50 left in the second quarter.
How quickly that lead evaporated. Sidney Webb, a three-year starter at QB at Northside before transferring in the preseason, had a nice kickoff return to the 45. Then on the first play, the Patriots went to the blazing fast Carmelo Taylor again, resulting in a 55-yard touchdown reception. That made it 20-14 for the Patriots.
After a Cougar fumble, the Patriots got the ball back fast, and got into the end zone again before the half, using play-action to get there. They went for two and got it, and that made it 28-14 at the half. Just in about 90 seconds, we went from up one to down fourteen.
Unfortunately, the Patriots would get the ball to start the second half, and wasted no time finding the end zone. Chuck Webb, a junior who is just returning from an injury, got to the end zone from five yards away and made it 35-14. The Cougars were stopped, the Patriots got the ball back, and on a third down, Beasley hit Sidney Webb on a 67-yard touchdown pass cutting across the field. That made it 42-14, with 29 unanswered points.
But the Cougars kept pounding. After a good drive with some third down conversions and chunk plays mixed in, Gallimore dropped back and fired to sophomore Taner Mace, who caught it for a 19-yard touchdown pass to draw the cougars a little closer, 42-20. But the Patriots just had too much speed. Promptly, Kimbrough took the kickoff and raced 82-yards down the visitor sideline for a score, just as quickly as we’d scored. That made it 49-20.
The Cougars would put together another long drive. Trevor Burton found the end zone for a second time, giving him his eighth multiple-touchdown game of the season. That made it 49-27 with about six minutes to go. To finish the game, Chuck Webb got his second touchdown run on the night, leaving us at the final score of 56-27.
Trevor Burton ran 28 times for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns. That brings him to 185 carries for 1,363 yards and 25 touchdowns. Other than the obvious must-win situation on Friday against Christiansburg, this may be the biggest storyline to follow. If Trevor gets one more touchdown rushing, he will tie the single season rushing touchdown record. If he gets two rushing touchdowns, he will break the rushing touchdown single-season record and tie the total touchdown record. And if he gets three touchdowns or more, he will set the record for most touchdowns in a single season. That would definitely be cool to see.
Chris Gallimore went 6/10 passing for 72 yards and a touchdown and ran 5 times for 25 yards. Taner Mace ran 5 times for 13 yards and caught 3 passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Underwood ran 5 rushes for 53 yards and a touchdown. Davis Neel had a good night with 3 catches for 25 yards. All in all, that’s 55 runs for 289 yards and 65 plays for 361 yards for the Cougars.
For the Patriots, Beasley was 10/16 for 259 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chuck Webb ran for 2 touchdowns, Kimbrough ran for one and had a kick return touchdown, and Taylor caught 2 touchdown passes.
With the loss, the Cougars are 4-5. If we want to go to the playoffs, we have to win Friday. The Blue Demons are 6-3. It will be a tall task on Friday.