Chalk one up for the defense. Pulaski County’s stop force limited Northside to 73 total yards of offense and shutout the Vikings, 14-0 in the 2019 season opener in Dobson Stadium Friday. The Cougars now take a 31-24 advantage in the long running series between the two rivals and it was the 7th shutout over the Vikings for Pulaski County.
Northside did not have a running back rush for more than eight yards. The Vikings never penetrated the red zone against the Cougar defense, and quarterback Sidney Webb was harassed by the Cougar defense the entire game.
The Cougar offense certainly wasn’t dominant, but it capitalized on two turnovers as the defense put the offense in business twice with big second half turnovers. Ethan Gallimore blocked a Vikings’ punt to setup the first touchdown and Corvin Carter intercepted a pass to setup the other.
After Ethan Gallimore’s blocked punt the Cougars were in business at the Northside 15. On a big third down play quarterback Chris Shay got around the left side for 14 yards to the Viking’s five. Two plays later Gage Mannon bulled over from the two. Carter’s pick came at the Northside 34. Keyontae Kennedy popped for 16, Shay then ran for five, and Kennedy went into the end zone from three yards out. Broc Simpson was good on both conversion kicks for the Cougars for a, 14-zip lead. Simpson’s punting kept the Vikings backed up the entire game, and Northside only crossed the 50 twice, but never penetrated the Cougar 40.
PCHS head coach Stephen James was happy that his team started the season with a win. “It was a great effort by our defense. We’ve still got work to do offensively, but we improved the past week, and many times we were just a block from breaking plays. When we get everybody executing at the same time, we’ll move the ball better, and I think we will.”
But when the other team doesn’t put any markers on the board, you win. “Our defense really played well. Ethan’s block was big. We didn’t have the punt block on, he just got there. Corvin’s interception was big, and he seemed to be around the football the whole game. But all those kids on defense played well. We had different combinations on the field, and rotated players in the secondary, and it didn’t matter. Whoever was out there played well. Very happy with that defense. And Broc punted the ball well for us, and we have confidence in him. His foot is going to help our team. We got better this past week, but now we have to get better next week. We’ve still got a lot of getting better to do, but tonight, to open the season with a win over a good opponent and get a shutout, that’s great for our team,” said James.
Pulaski County had a great 12-play drive in the first half, but was stopped short on fourth and inches just outside the Northside two yard line. Later in the half Jakari Finley had a first down run of 10 yards that moved the ball to the Vikings’ 18, but a penalty ruined that opportunity. Northside had only 40 yards of offense the first half, and just 33 the second. But after a scoreless first half, the two big turnovers and two scores put the game away surprisingly early, and the Cougars were very conservative in the fourth quarter.
Webb was only 10 of 24 passing for 48 yards for the Vikings and suffered Carter’s theft. Northside managed just 25 yards rushing on 21 attempts. And after each Cougar touchdown Simpson kicked the ball off into the end zone and the Vikings had to start at their own 20 and they never got out of the hole the entire game.
The Cougars finished with 160 total yards. The team rushed for 147 yards on 42 carries. Shay was one of four passing for 13 yards, and suffered an interception that appeared as if it might result in a Viking touchdown, but an illegal block right at the point of the catch ended up with Northside having possession at its own 32. Landon McDaniel made the pass reception for the Cougars. Finley led the rushing effort with 80 yards on 13 carries, Kennedy finished with 34 on 12 tries, Shay got 17 on 10, and Mannon got 16 yards on seven carries.
Pulaski County will be back at home in Dobson Stadium against next Friday when it hosts Bassett. Game time will be 7 pm.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot