Pulaski County moved to 2-0 on the football season with a, 42-6 rout over visiting Bassett in Dobson Stadium Friday evening. Bassett falls to 0-2 on the season. The Cougars must now travel to undefeated (2-0) Abingdon next Friday.
The Cougars got big plays out of its offense, defense, and special teams. Head coach Stephen James was pleased with the team’s overall package. “I also liked our two-minute drill late in the first half. I was pleased with our execution. We got a little better offensively, continued to play well defensively, and we got big plays out of our special teams and kicking game. I think overall we got better, and we need to keep getting better. I real happy to be 2-0.”
The scoring got started early. Layne Suthers returned the opening kickoff 55 yards to the Bassett 30 for Pulaski Co. A.J. McCloud, making his first start at quarterback, passed to Landon McDaniel for 15 yards to the Bengals’14. On the next play Gage Mannon zipped up the middle to score. Broc Simpson kicked the conversion and he would hit all seven of them this night.
On their second possession of the game after the defense held Bassett deep, the Cougars moved 38 yards. McCloud scored on a keeper from three yards out for a, 14-0 lead. Then there was a lull as the Cougars offense went three and out on three straight possessions and were hit with holding penalties on two of them. But with 1:46 left in the half and the ball at their own 40, the Cougars moved quickly. McCloud passed to John Lyman for 10, and then Bassett was hit with a 15-yard late hit penalty out of bounds. McCloud then slipped off the left side and sped 14 yards to the 24 with the Cougars out of timeouts he managed to get out of bounds to stop the clock. On the next play McCloud moved to his right and found McDaniel again for 22 yards to the Bengal two. On the next play Jakari Finley went over with just 35.9 seconds left in the half for a 21-0 lead.
Things happened quickly in the second half. Finley blocked a Bassett punt attempt and fell on the ball at the Bengals’ two yard line. McCloud scored on the next play. On its next possession the Pulaski Co. moved to a fourth and short, went for it on fourth down, but came up a yard shy at the Bassett 17. Three plays later Bengal quarterback Drew Fisher completed a pass over the middle to Jamari Johnson, but Cougar linebacker Luke Russell whacked him hard, knocked the ball free, and Mannon scooped it up and ran 34 yards to paydirt.
Pulaski Co. scored one final time when Finley broke three Bassett tackles and powered his way 13 yards to the end zone. At that point the Cougars emptied the bench, and with a continuing clock in force after a 35-point lead they moved to the three with one play left. Fisher threw under pressure, the ball was deflected and bounded into the air and down into the waiting hands of Will Belongia, a Bengal offensive lineman for the score, and the final, 42-6 score.
Bassett gained most of its yards in the fourth quarter and finished with 169 total yards for the game, 77 rushing, and 92 passing. The Bengals were seven of 18 passing and Johnson did catch three for 72 yards, and was easily the most productive offensive player for Bassett.
Pulaski County rushed 38 times for 208 yards. McCloud connected on four of seven passes for 42 yards, and a total offense of 250 yards. Mannon had 77 yards on seven carries, Finley 70 on 13, Chayton Rollins got 18 on two, Keyontae eight yards on three runs, Chris Shay six on four tries, and McCloud finished with seven yards on four carries. McDaniel has two catches for 35 yards, and John Lyman two for seven.
Next Friday the Cougars will take on an Abingdon team that knocked off Gate City Friday to move to 2-0.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot