The Cougars had two streaks come to an end Thursday night in the rain at L. Hope Dossett stadium. One was the two game winning streak this season but more significantly the Cougars hadn’t lost to Karns in nearly a decade. The 8 game winning streak the Cougars enjoyed in the series was the longest in school history over any opponent. To an old school Cougar fan it was especially sweet, as Karns is the top rival in the eyes of many.
Thursday started as badly as possible. The Cougars lost the coin toss and Karns chose to take the ball. Desean Bishop, the sophomore star Karns back racked up his first touchdown of the night on the opening possession. It would become a theme on the evening.
The Cougars first possession resulted in a punt attempt and a dropped kick return had backed the up to start, so Thomas Johnson was attempting the punt from inside the 10 yard line. A rain slicked ball was bobbled and Johnson was hit hard and tacked for a loss immediately. This set Karns up at the Cougars six yard line. Mr. Bishop soon put touchdown number two on the board. It was 14-0 before the Cougars knew what hit them.
The next Cougar possession saw C.J. Allen turn into Herschel Walker. He absolutely thundered over a Karns defender in similar fashion to the famous Walker run vs Vol legend Bill Bates in the early 1980s. Allen finished off the drive a few plays later with a one yard crash over the left side into the endzone. The Johnson xp made it 14-7.
It didn’t take long for the Beavers to answer. Bishop once more began running by the Cougars. He scored on the first Karns snap with a long touchdown run down the right side of the field. The extra point was good and it was 21-7 with 2:21 to go in the 1st quarter. The Karns that had struggled to keep up with the Cougars for the last eight years suddenly seemed unstoppable.
The Cougars took their next possession and began to rapidly march towards the Beaver endzone. Another nice run by Allen followed by a pass play from Hunter White to Mason Shanks saw the Cougars sitting at the one yard line as the first quarter ended. CCHS quickly converted that opportunity into six but this time the Johnson xp missed by inches to the right.
The Cougar defense finally got a break when around 30 seconds after the touchdown Karns decided to try the rare pass on the evening, Gavin Newman snatched the ball away and Campbell County was back in business near midfield. This time the Cougar offense couldn’t make a go of it after some penalties, and they were forced to punt.
This possession saw Karns inexplicably go for it on 4th and four from their own 27 yard line. The Cougar defense would have none of it and they stuffed the Karns offense, giving their offense the ball back in great field position.
The Cougar run was slowed this time but Hunter White rolled right on 4th and eight from the 25 and spotted MaKyle Shepherd near the five yard line. He threw a dart into Shepherd’s arms and the speedy wideout dove over the goal line for six. The attempt for two failed and it was 21-19 eight minutes remaining in the half.
Karns came out on this possession looking to reestablish their running attack as the rain began to come down harder. It worked well for the Beavers as Bishop soon cashed in his 4th touchdown of the first half making it 28-19.
The Cougar offense took over once more and once more there was a healthy dose of Allen mixed with White to Shepherd. The Cougars quickly marched inside the 10 when disaster struck again and CCHS fumbled. Karns recovered and the Cougars were forced to hit the half trailing 28-19.
The teams played good defense and exchanged punts early in the third quarter. The Cougars mounted a drive midway through the 3rd that saw another short C.J Allen td run, it was 28-26 after the Johnson xp.
Unfortunately Desean Bishop was not going to be denied any longer and the Beavers answered as he scored touchdown number five on the night. The Cougars didn’t have an answer for running wide. The defense had a similar struggle against Carter. Campbell County caught good fortune with a penalty on the Beavers after the touchdown. Coach Price chose to enforce it on the xp attempt. The Beavers missed and the game was back to one possession, 34-26.
It very quickly became even closer. Allen burst out with a 70 yard touchdown jaunt on the ensuing Cougar possession. The two point try failed however and it left the score at 34-32 with around 2:30 remaining in the third quarter.
After the kickoff, Karns, feeling the pressure of an unrelenting Cougar offense seemed to revert to their normal state, which is a football team that makes a lot of mistakes. Things couldn’t have looked better for CCHS after a series of Beaver penalties left it third down and 22 from their own six yard line to begin the final quarter. The Cougar defense unfortunately got a hand in Bishop’s face mask on a 12 yard run that would have forced a punt. Instead the Beavers were awarded a first down via penalty.
Karns continued the drive in methodical fashion, Bishop simply took direct snaps and gained just enough yardage to keep the Cougar offense on the sidelines. Bishop once more hit the Campbell County endzone, his sixth trip there on the night. This drive had eaten away over seven minutes and the extra point made it a two possession game with seven minutes to go. 41-32.
Campbell County had a quick three and out on the next possession but the defense stepped up and was able to stop Bishop, forcing a punt.
The Cougar offense had just over three minutes of time and were down by two scores. They had to take to the air and take to the air they did. White began spreading the ball around and completed critical drive extending passes to Mason Shanks over the middle. The drive was capped off when White hit Devon Jones with a sideline strike and the sophomore speedster blew by a Beaver and burst into the endzone. The Cougars had scored quickly but time was short.
Karns recovered the onside kick but a determined Cougar defense was not going to let Bishop beat them. Allen was able to grab him by the tail of his jersey and drag him down short of the marker on third down. Because the Cougars had three time outs the offense got the ball back with just over a minute remaining.
White once more began completing critical passes and scrambling out of bounds for positive yardage when the passes were closed. The Cougars crossed into Karns territory as the clock wound below 20 second. White tossed a pass to Shanks that was incomplete around the 20 while Thomas Johnson warmed up for a potential game winning field goal attempt. It wasn’t to be this time though, a holding penalty in the backfield caused a significant loss of yardage and a false start on the attempt to spike the ball allowed the clock to expire before CCHS could attempt the hail Mary.
Karns, a school that normally has great athleticism but lacks fundamentals displayed both on Thursday. Desean Bishop rushed 42 times for 327 yards and six touchdowns. The Cougar offense matched those six touchdowns but a fumble, and a special teams turnover sealed their fate. Both those occuring inside the respective 10 yard lines meant maximum negative impact and a 14 point swing.
Allen was beastly. 244 yards and some of the most punishing hits you’ll ever see a running back put on a defender. Hunter White, MaKyle Shepherd, Mason Shanks, Devon Jones and Peyton Ferguson had the passing game humming. The Cougars had an uncharacteristic night of false starts but otherwise you will win ninety percent of games with a two hundred yard rusher and six touchdowns. However Karns having Bishop go for 327 yards and six tds meant they controlled the clock and therefore the game.
It was obvious neither defense could stop the other offense so time and number of possessions became critical. Karns won that war and the game. The Beavers seem to put their athleticism and fundamentals together for one unexpected game each season. Last year they beat a Fulton team that easily handled the Cougars and Oak Ridge. This year, for the first time in nine years the Cougars got that effort.