Roanoke– Pulaski County won its fourth straight football game and moved to 4-1 on the season with a 34-0 shellacking of Cave Spring Friday at Bogle Field. The Knights dropped to 2-3 on the season and were never in the game, and so dominating was the Cougar defense Cave never crossed the 50 on an offensive possession.
Pulaski County’s offense was in high gear the first half scoring on five of six possessions. All this while the Cougar defense swarmed all over the Knights. Cave Spring managed just 26 yards of offense the first half and 52 total yards for the game. Jacob Knight was six of 26 passing for 40 yards, and the Knights could manage just 12 rushing yards on 23 attempts. It was the Cougar defense’s second shutout of the season.
PCHS head coach Stephen James was obviously pleased. He like his first half offensive performance, was not pleased with the offensive execution the second half, but thrilled with his defensive unit’s play.
“I am extremely pleased with our defensive effort. We had great intensity. We got after Cave Spring, and stayed after them. Our defense never let up, a very good job. Offensively, our first half execution was excellent. I was pleased, but the second half was not so hot. Some of that is my fault. I wanted to try some different things and do some things we hadn’t done. Sometimes when you decide to do some different things you lose your sharpness, but we had a good drive to start the second half, but fumbled away a touchdown. We had a miss.d and threw an interception, and we threw a bad pick.. I’m certainly not going to be upset with a 34-0 shutout, but had we maintained our first half level of execution we would have scored more. We just weren’t as crisp, but I’m not going to complain too much. This was a good effort and a good win for the kids, and good night for Pulaski County,” smiled James.
The game started with Pulaski County kicker Ryan Castle kicking off through the end zone. Cave was always forced to start its possessions on their own 20 because Castle would kick the ball out of the end zone six times. The Knights were always looking at first down and 80. “You gotta love that,” said James.
After three and out for the Knights, the Cougars drove 64 yards in eight plays, getting four first downs. The big play was a pass from Kade Akers to E.J. Horton of 29 yards to the Cave 12. Jakari Finley would score from the one. Finley went over the 100-yard rushing mark for the third straight game, finishing with a career high 166 yards on 22 carries.
It was three and out again for Cave. Then came a 44-yard, six play drive and on the final two snaps tailback Gage Mannon ran for 16 and then 10 to the end zone, and it was 14-zip. The next drive stalled, but Castle was true on a 22-yard field goal for, 17-0.
After punting the only time in the first half, the Cougars rolled 82 yards on just five plays. Finley ran for 17, Akers passed over the middle to Horton for 23, Finley ran for 12, Akers hit Logan Burchett for 21, and then Akers faked inside and ran untouched for nine yards and the touchdown with 2:19 left in the half.
Cave kept trying to pass, but the Cougar pressure was relentless, and it was three and out again taking little time off the clock. The Cougars had time to get in field goal range and Castle boomed a 43-yard field goal with just 9.2 seconds left in the half for a, 27-0 lead.
Cave had a chance midway in the third quarter. It came on the miss-read James spoke of. Lucas Duncan picked off an Akers pass in the flat and set sail, but Akers did not quit on the play and ran Duncan down, knocking him out of bounds at the Cougar 12. Here came the Pulaski Co. defense again. Akers saved the score, and then the defense knocked the Knights all the way back from the 12 to the 33 where the possession ended, and that was the only time the Knights had the ball across the 50 until that point.
The final score of the game came late in the third quarter as the Cougars steadily drove the football 75 yards in 10 plays. Akers took it over from three yards out. Castle hit his fourth point after conversion of the game for the final, 34-0 score. Cougar coaches spent much of the fourth quarter getting players experience, but the defense never let up, and the backups still dominated the Cave offense.
Pulaski County finished with a season high 520 total yards even with a sluggish second half. The Cougars ran the football 46 times for 354 yards, and Akers connected on 19 of 27 passes for 166 yards. Pulaski County has now rushed for 20 touchdowns on the season and 14 in the last three games.
The Cougars host Hidden Valley next week and it’s homecoming.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot