Friday’s Cougars vs Falcons game was a world apart from what has become the normal experience when taking on the six time state champions from Fulton. No matter how skilled the Cougar team had been in past years the Falcons flew past them in blowout fashion.
This year was a different story but unfortunately for CCHS, the result was a loss. The game started with the Cougars taking the ball and moving into Fulton territory before bogging down. Campbell County tried a fake punt play but the play failed and Fulton took over on downs.
The Falcons started a drive of their own but Will Lester, Desmond Gilbert, Wyatt Sharp, Josh Moore, Blake Taylor, and Carson Meade along with other Cougar defenders managed to bottle the Falcons up, Fulton missed a field goal and it was 0-0.
The Cougar offense took over and Hunter White was on target to Mason Shanks, Cahron Williams, and MaKyle Shepherd with several C.J. Allen runs and the Cougars found themselves deep in Falcon territory. Allen rumbled and spun his way into the endzone with 9:56 to go in the second quarter. After the Latham Carr extra point it was 7-0. The Cougars had an exceptionally rare lead on the Falcons.
The Cougars rolled the dice on special teams with an onside kick after the touchdown. Speedy Peyton Ferguson came up with the ball and the Cougars kept the Falcon offense on the sidelines a bit longer. Unfortunately the drive didn’t get any traction and the Cougars found themselves punting again.
Mason Shanks sailed a beauty down the left sideline and the ball dropped at the 12 yard line where it was downed by Ferguson.
The Cougar defense once more was having none of the Falcon offense moving the ball. Fulton found themselves punting from their own 10 yard line. The snap was bobbled and Mason Shanks was in the backfield by the time the punter recovered. He tried to get away from Shanks but ran towards big Josh Moore who pancaked him to the turf.
The Cougar offense appeared to have a touchdown on the board from CJ Allen but a holding call caused them to lose 10 yards. A couple of failed plays later it was 4th and goal from the 15. Hunter White took the snap, scanned the field and spotted Cahron Williams, freshly back from an injury vs Gibbs. Williams pulled in the pass and after the Carr xp it was 14-0 with just over 5 minutes to go in the half.
This time the Falcons got the ball and made it to around midfield before the Cougar defense slowed them down. Facing 4th and 3 Fulton decided to go for it but simply couldn’t get it done vs the fierce Cougar defense.
The Cougars got the ball back with 3:37 remaining in the half but were once more forced to punt. Shanks hit another solid one down to the 10. The Falcons took the ball with 90 yards facing them and a very short time to cover it. Fulton has some four leaf clovers in their back pockets, they had only moved the ball to near the 50 and had burned all but 2.8 seconds of the first half clock. Unfortunately for the Cougars the Falcons executed a perfect “Hail Mary” pass to the 1 and the receiver fell just into the endzone. It was 14-7 at the half with the Falcons buzzing with momentum suddenly.
The third quarter started well for CCHS. Fulton took the opening kick and moved the ball towards Cougar territory but Mason Shanks was there on defense once again. He snagged a Falcon pass and gave the Cougars the ball at around the 10 minute mark of the 3rd quarter. Bad fortune struck as Fulton had an interception of their own, this one for a touchdown. They missed the extra point and the Cougars had a 1 point lead, 14-13.
The ensuing possession saw another quick interception shut down the Cougar drive. The Falcons made the Cougars pay for it as well, cashing it in for 7 after a short drive. It was suddenly 20-14 Fulton. It looked like a point where things could have gotten out of control for CCHS but the offense came back out ready to roll.
Roll they did, White peppered passes to Shanks and Shepherd to move the Cougars to the 31 yard line. C.J. Allen did the rest, he burst down the Cougar sideline and into the endzone after excellent blocks by the Cougar linemen crew sealed the corner for him. Very unfortunately for the Cougars, the extra point sailed wide and it was 20-20 with 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd.
The Falcons took the next possession to near midfield once more before the Cougar defense got them corralled. This time Fulton decided to punt and he once again fumbled the snap. The Cougars smashed into him and took over on downs.
The 4th quarter started with the Cougars moving into Falcon territory. On 3rd down and 12 White spotted Shepherd in the left flat. He fired a strike and Shepherd hit the jets, 35 yards later it was 26-20 Cougars with the extra point pending. Carr just missed it again, leaving the Cougars up by only 6. This came into major play before the game was over.
Before then the Cougar defense stuffed Fulton on 4th down deep in CCHS territory. Unfortunately the Falcon defense wouldn’t bend and Campbell County had to punt it away from deep in their own territory. This time the Falcons were able to score, going up 27-26 after they made the extra point.
Campbell County began moving the ball again. Hunter White had an amazing completion to Devon Jones who had gotten open behind the Falcon defense. Then on 3rd and long White ran a draw for a first down. It looked like the Cougars were in business for either a touchdown or potential game winning field goal with just over a minute and 20 seconds to go in the game. The Cougars dialed up a deep middle pass to near the endzone but the Falcon defense was ready. They had several high leaping defenders near the ball and one of them came down with the interception.
This left them on the one yard line with 1:20 remaining. The Cougar defense got the first and second down stop but on third down the Falcon running back burst through the line and went 94 yards for a touchdown. This was actually a blessing for the Cougars, if the back had simply fallen down after the 1st down the Falcons could have ran out the clock, as Campbell County only had one time out remaining. The extra point was no good and Campbell County was down 33-26 with 55 seconds to go.
The Falcons’ special teams that had been failing all night long pulled off its best play of the game at that point. The kick off went deep into Cougar territory and they were able to get the stop at the 18 yard line, meaning the Cougars had 82 yards to go in less than a minute. That simply wasn’t enough time and the game ended with a Falcon sack.
It was a hard game to lose but the Cougars performed very well on the evening. CCHS is a few extra points from being 5-3 instesd of 3-5. The brutal schedule and those two painful losses are somewhat masking how much better the Cougars are than last year. They take those improvements and move on towards the Clinton game, a team that has upset the Cougars two years in a row.
Cougar golfer David Bates finished right in the middle of the 64 person field at the Large School State Golf Championships at Willowbrook in Manchester. Bates had 6 birdies in the two day tournament, carding a 77 and 79.
Cougar coach Michael Cain returns all the golfers from the district tournament double championship teams next season.
The rising senior class of Jack Leach, David Bates, Trevor Sharp and Garrett Medley, along with rising junior Dominic Zupancic will make another formidable group for the district, with several younger players who should make great strides with another year of golf.
On the Ladies side, rising seniors Sadie Cox and Morgan Gray, along with rising junior Molly Fields will look to defend their team district championship. Younger players such as Bailey Mckamey will look to improve and help shore up the Lady Cougars chance at the repeat.
The Cougars traveled down I-75 to take on the powerful Panthers of Powell on Friday evening. The scored ended up being one sided but the game never felt as out of hand as the score reflected. This was due in part to the ability of the Cougar offense to move the ball vs the extremely talented and athletic Panther defense.
The game started out in typical fashion for the #2 ranked Panthers, they managed to get a fast touchdown on the board for a 7-0 lead.
The next Panther possession saw them have a nice punt return that moved them to midfield. The Cougar defense played well enough to force several 3rd downs on the drive but Powell was able to convert them and get the ball into the endzone once more late in the 1st quarter.
The Cougars mounted a nice drive of their own with Hunter White hitting key throws to Peyton Ferguson and MaKyle Shepherd, mixed with Allen on the ground. At the Panther 14 White spotted Shepherd a few yards deep in the endzone and made the throw through several Powell defenders, Shepherd came up with the ball and six points. The Cougars were without place kicker Thomas Johnson, so Latham Carr sailed it through the uprights and it was 14-7 with just over nine minutes remaining in the second and the game felt very competitive.
After the kickoff Powell began another drive. Once more the Cougars made them face several 3rd downs but couldn’t get them off the field. The Panthers scored on a 20 yard touchdown pass, making it 21-7.
The Cougar offense began another long drive on their next possession. White was accurate and steady hitting Shepherd, Shanks and Ferguson, while C.J. Allen picked up positive yardage on the ground. It looked like the Cougars had a good shot at only being down a score as the half approached. The Cougars had possession of the football for around four minutes when they faced 4th down deep in Panther territory. The Powell defense made a great play breaking up the White pass and the offense took the field.
Unfortunately the Cougars could not get the stop and the Panthers went up 28-7. There it would stay til the half.
In the 3rd quarter the Cougars had a quick defensive stand and forced Powell to punt. Disaster struck when a jarring hit by the Panthers forced a fumbled punt. This took positive Cougar momentum and switched it to Powell. The Panthers cashed in the fumble for a touchdown and it was 35-7. The game felt much closer, the pass break up in the 2nd by the Powell defense and the special teams turnover and score was a possible 14 point swing, the game felt more like 28-14 than 35-7 but such is football.
That feeling became amplified on the next Cougar possession. White began to fire passes to Mason Shanks and the duo made the Powell defense bend. The Cougars flew into Panther territory after a long gainer over the middle and another Shanks catch on the left side. C.J. Allen was able to grind through Powell defenders and finally he rumbled into the endzone in the Cougar heavy package. The xp failed and it was 35-13 in a game that felt so close to 28-20.
The rest of the way was much the same. The Panthers managed to score twice more and the Cougars were able to moved the ball some but never get back to the endzone.
The game ended at 48-13 but seemed closer. The Cougar offensive line improved greatly after having multiple costly penalties vs Karns last week. The entire team only had two. The players fought hard the entire game. The Panthers are a better team than Oak Ridge but this game didn’t feel nearly as one sided as that one. The Cougars have improved quite a bit since that game. The schedule, unfortunately, remains quite challenging to close the season. After the bye the Cougars travel to Fulton, then close at home with Clinton and #1 in the state, West High.