Cougars roar over Carroll, 53-14

     Pulaski County won its third straight football game and upped it record on the season to 3-1 with a lopsided win over Carroll County who saw its record drop to 1-3 on the season Wednesday evening in Dobson Stadium. The game was played early because of concerns due to the storm “Florence,” however the game was played under perfect conditions, and the storm does not appear it will effect Pulaski County as first feared.

    The Cougars got off to a sluggish start in the first quarter, but had a huge second quarter and the game went to a “continuous clock” with the second half kickoff after Pulaski County moved to a, 36-0 halftime lead. The Cougar coaching staff played everybody in a gold helmet as backups and the junior varsity team saw considerable playing time in the second half.

     Head coach Stephen James was pleased to win, but did not feel his team was sharp much of the game.

     “It was a short week. I think both teams probably suffered a bit from that. We’re going to take a couple days off now and then get ready for Cave Spring. We needed to be a more focused team tonight and certainly need to be more focused the rest of the season. We had too many penalties, and our execution was lacking at times. I’ve said it before. We need to get better, and we need to get better everywhere,” said James.

     Pulaski County held Carroll to just 28 yards of offense the first half, but allowed two runners to break clean for 49 (Lance Rotenizer) and 72 yards (Cassell McMillian) in the third quarter. “We like to give kids playing time if we can, but I expect to play better than that, but again, our backups and JV kids didn’t get to practice against Carroll with just two days,” said James.

     The Cougars quickly took charge again and scored the game’s final two touchdowns, and the contest again went to a “continuous clock” over the final 6:04. Pulaski County will be back on the road next Friday with a River Ridge contest at Cave Spring.

     Pulaski County also had two touchdowns nullified due to holding calls. There were six holding penalties in the game against the Cougars who were penalized 11 times for 115 yards. “That’s obviously too much, too many penalties,” said James. “I’m not going to say I agree with all of them, particularly one, but it was not a good night in some ways, but it just goes back to eliminating mistakes, execution, focus, and getting better, but that’s way too many penalties.”

      The Cougars put together an eight-play, 63-yard drive late in the first quarter, and the touchdown came on a bullish run by Gage Mannon when he ran over a Cavalier defender inside the five and scored at the pylon. 

      The second quarter was a Pulaski County blitz as Carroll Co. had six straight possessions of three and out, or worse. The Cavs snapped the ball over the punter’s head out the back of the end zone for a 9-0 lead. Following the kickoff quarterback Kade Akers hit E.J. Horton on a seven-yard slant for six making it, 15-0. Then Cougar tailback Jakari Finley put together back to back 25-yard runs, and the second one found paydirt and it was, 22-0. Then Noah O’Dell recovered a fumble for the Cougars at the Carroll 26. On first down Akers and Horton hooked up for the score. Following the kickoff Chris Shay picked off a Cavalier pass and returned to the Carroll 23. On first down Akers nailed Horton in the back of the end zone, and the lead had ballooned to, 36-0 in stunning fashion at the half.

      In the second half the Cougars got three on a 36-yard third quarter field goal by Ryan Cassell who was also good on five of six point after touchdown kicks. Broc Simpson kicked the conversion after the Cougars final touchdown of the game. With the score, 39-0 Pulaski County went to its bench. Akers did not play the rest of the game.

       The final two Cougar touchdowns came on a 68-yard drive. The big play was a leaping 24-yard catch of a pass by Logan Burchett that gave Pulaski Co. a first down at the Carroll 15. Mannon blew up the gut on the next play for six more. 

     The fourth quarter was all JV and featured the running of freshman Keyante Kennedy. Horton had a touchdown pass called back because of holding and Kennedy had a big touchdown run called back also for holding. But he got it back and scored the game’s final touchdown on a one-yard run with 6:04 left to play for the final, 53-14 score.

     Carroll finished with 249 yards of total offense, all but 28 of it coming in the second half and all of it rushing yards. Rotenizer had 146 yards on 10 carries, and McMillian 82 on 13 runs.

      Pulaski County finished with 390 yards of total offense, 247 of it on 40 rushes, and 143 of it passing. Finley had his second straight 100-yard rushing game, getting 112 on 14 carries. Mannon finished with 63 on 10 runs, Kennedy 47 on eight, Akers 16 on six, Luke Russel one for eight, and Drew Dalton one for one.

      Akers was six of nine passing for 89 yards and three touchowns, all of them to Horton. A.J. McCloud was three of five passing for 54 yards. Horton caught six aerials for 89 yards, O’Dell two for 30, and Burchett one for 24. Jason Deu also had pass interception for Pulaski County, and Christian Finn a fumble recovery.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot

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