Pulaski County celebrated Homecoming with a big, 49-21 win over Hidden Valley in Dobson Stadium Friday evening. It was the fifth consecutive victory for the Cougars who are now 5-1 on the season. Hidden Valley falls to 1-5. It was also the fourth straight win for the Cougars over the Titans.
All the rain during the week created a slow track, and footing was a problem at times for the players. But still the teams put up the points. However, all of Hidden Valley’s came in the second half. During the first two quarters, the Titans managed just 82 total yards against the Cougar defense. A continuous clock was used much of the second half, and many Cougars got on the field. Alisha Noble and Jaxson Callahan were named Queen and King of Homecoming during halftime ceremonies. Callahan is a senior starting center for the Cougars, and one of the team’s captains.
“The field was tough to play on,” said PCHS head coach Stephen James. “It was soggy during pregame warmups and we knew it would be a slow track, but the footing was worse than we thought it might be. It was just hard for the players to make cuts, and at times it made us not as quick. I thought we played well considering the elements. We made some big plays, and didn’t make a few, but it was a good win for us.”
James still feels his team needs to work on execution and continue to try and get sharper. “We need to get back to work on Monday. Continue to work hard. Continue to get better. We still need to be more consistent. The kids are working hard. We’re going to stay after it, and see what we can get done,” said James.
Defense made the biggest scoring plays in the first half for the Cougars. The Titans tried a swing pass that was not handled, but the pass was a backward lateral, it did not go forward. Gage Mannon was alert for Pulaski County and scooped the football up on the run. He was just six yards from the end zone, and the Cougars had the first score of the game.
The second score came on a big offensive surge as the offensive front took control for the Cougars. Kade Akers hit tight end Dillon Porter down the middle for 16 yards. Two plays later tailback Jakari Finley ran 25 yards, and three plays later Akers hit Cody Gibbs underneath the Titan defense and just across the goal line for six.
The third touchdown came on another big defensive play. Titan quarterback Grayson Carroll was under pressure and he tried to throw a deep out pass, but Akers stepped in front, made the interception and zipped 44 yards to paydirt. It was 21-0 Cougars.
The Cougars drove again, but Ryan Castle had a field goal attempt of 41 yards blocked, his only miss of the season, but Pulaski County got the ball back late, and moved 60 yards in a hurry. Akers passed to Logan Burchett for 12 yards, then to Gibbs for 12 more, then hit Noah O’Dell on a crossing pattern and it was 13 yards to the Titan 34. On the next play Akers dropped back to pass, but the field opened up in front of him and he took off. He made a move to get by a defender at the five, and he took it home with just :29 on the clock for a 28-0 Cougar lead at the half.
Midway in the third quarter the Cougars moved 72 yards to score. Big plays came when Akers passed to O’Dell for 12 and seven yards on seam routes. Then he ran for eight, and then Finley ran for 13 to the HV 13 and on the the next play for for 13 more to the end zone. Following the next Titan possession they tried a fake punt. It didn’t work. On the next play Mannon zoomed 20 yards up the gut to paydirt, and the Cougars were up, 42-7. The final score came in the fourth quarter when A.J. McCloud hit Xavier Cobbs on a quick slant and he sped the last 25 yards on a 30-yard score for the final, 49-14. Castle was seven for seven on extra point kicks.
Pulaski County rushed for 227 yards on 31 carries. Mannon led the way with 101 yards on seven attempts. Finley finished with 97 yards on 14 carries, and Akers was eight for 28 after subtracting quarterback sacks. The Cougars passed for 143 yards, connecting on 12 of 21 aerials with one interception. Akers was 11 of 17 for 113. O’Dell had five catches for 49 yards, Porter one for 16, E.J. Horton two for 15, Gibbs two for 28, Burchett one for 11, and Cobbs one for 30. Pulaski County finished with 370 total yards.
Carroll was 16 of 31 passing for Hidden Valley for 245 yards. The Titans could only run the ball for 44 yards on 24 carries. Tight end Kelly Mitchell was far and away the chief offensive threat for the Titans. He caught four passes for 139 yards, and a touchdown.
Pulaski County will travel to Christiansburg to play next Friday.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot