Pulaski County’s defense allowed Christiansburg just 66 total yards of offense, and the Cougars got back on the winning track Friday at Homecoming in Dobson Stadium with a, 14-6 Homecoming victory Friday. The Cougars moved to 6-1 on the season, and the Blue Demons fell to 3-3.
The most impressive offensive drive of the game for either team, and one of the most impressive for Pulaski Co. on the season was the Cougars’ first possession of the game. The Cougars moved 59 yards on 11 plays. The offensive line moved Christiansburg off the ball, and Chris Shay, A.J. McCloud, and Keyantae Kennedy all had impressive runs. Shay would score from the one with 6:10 left in the opening quarter. Broc Simpson kicked the conversion and although the score remained close, the Cougars never trailed and the Demons never threatened to take the lead.
But after the impressive opening drive, the Cougars went three and out on three straight possessions and lost control of field position. Simpson had to punt from his own end zone, and Danny Altizer got a nice return for the Demons and they had first down at the Pulaski Co. 25. Three plays later quarterback M.J. Hunter passed to tight end Jake Clemons on a quick slant from the 15 for the touchdown, however, Fredy Policarpo’s conversion kick bounced off the right upright and the Cougars stayed in front, 7-6.
There were no other threats by either team until late in the half when John Lyman caught a deflected pass from McCloud and turned it into the 44-yard pass and run play to the Christiansburg 21, but McCloud was picked off inside the five.
The Blue Demons went three and out eight times in the game and never threatened in the second half and the touchdown possession was the only time they entered the red zone.
It took a while however before the Cougars put them away. A fumbled punt under pressure and recovery by Ethan Gallimore gave the Cougars a first down at the Demon 30, but a holding penalty nullified a Shay run to the 15. A 47-yard field goal attempt by Simpson was short and wide right.
The two teams traded three and outs into the fourth quarter before Logan Burchett got a punt return to the Christiansburg 48. McCloud got a first down on a four-yard run to the 35. Two plays later McCloud and Layne Suthers hooked up on a pass and run play for 16 yards to the 18. Two plays later a holding penalty pushed the ball back to the 22. On the next play McCloud ran a keeper for 14 yards to a first down at the 12. Shay took three straight carries before hammering the ball over from two yards out on a quick pitch. Simspon’s kick made it, 14-6 with 9:02 left to play.
The Cougars had another chance to score after a McCloud interception, but after returning it inside the Demon 10, an illegal blocking penalty after the pick pushed the ball back out to the 42 with 6:37 to play. The Cougars couldn’t move the ball, but neither could the Demons, but after a punt Pulaski Co. pushed the ball down to the Demons’ 28, and ran out the clock.
“I thought Chris Shay played really well for us tonight,” said Pulaski Co. head coach Stephen James. “Our defense played well too. It helped to have Luke Russell back in the lineup. I hope we can have a couple other guys back in the lineup next week for the Blacksburg game, but those guys played tough, and played physical. I thought our team gave a really good effort tonight.”
James says his team is still trying to figure some things out offensively. “That first drive was great, but they switched up some things and we just had trouble picking it up. We’re still trying to find out what we are, but we keep seeing pieces that start to fit. We just need to be consistent. At times we look like we can be a power offense. We’ve just got to keep working, and we had too many penalties. Our offense cannot overcome a lot of penalties (10-95 yards). We left a few points on the field, but we needed a win and we got it,” added James.
Christiansburg was only able to rush for 45 yards on 29 carries. Hunter was just two of 13 passing for 21 yards and suffered McCloud’s interception. Other than the one 25-yard possession for its only score, the Demons gained just 41 yards the remainder of the game.
Pulaski Co. totaled 234 yards of offense, 147 rushing and 87 passing. Shay ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, McCloud got 43 yards on 10 runs, and Kennedy 31 on 14 attempts. McCloud was eight of 14 passing for 87 with the one pick. His top receiver was Lyman with four catches for 56 yards, Suthers caught two for 16, and Chase Dodson two for 11.
After going a week without a turnover the Cougars defense got two, Ethan Gallimore had the fumble recovery in addition to McCloud’s interception. The Cougars will be on the road next Friday at Blacksburg.
BY DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot