In an emotionally charged game that saw a 2 hour stoppage for lightning, the Campbell County Cougars defeated Cocke County in a defensive battle.
The field started out wet as heavy showers drenched the Hill in the hour leading to the pre-game ceremonies and a rainbow appeared over the CCHS football field house, further marking for many, the special significance of the #TeamJack theme of the evening. The crowd, dressed almost entirely in Orange for young Jack remained loud and rowdy as the game got underway.
The Cougars took the ball first to begin the contest and failed to produce much on their initial possession. The wet ball seemed to make things extra hard for the Cougar receivers to hold on to sophomore quarterback Hunter White’s passes.
The Cougar defense quickly set the theme for the night behind junior linebacker Blake Taylor. Taylor looked unstoppable once again and was seemingly in the quarterbacks face as soon as the ball was snapped.
The Cougars resumed possession of the ball and got to work. C.J Allen made some yardage on the ground while White and his receiving duo of Cahron Williams and Devlin Dukes helped move the ball through the air. With just under 3 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter White found Dukes for a 19 yard touchdown strike. Thomas Johnson hit the xp and the Cougars led 7-0.
The Fighting Cocks took possession after the kick off and once again ran into swarming Cougar defense. Taylor, Javan McCulley, Jadon White and Daymon Seiber were everywhere Cocke County didn’t need them to be.
White once more took the ball for the Cougars as thunder rumbled in the Western skies. The Cougars had driven into Cocke County territory when the sky began to flash much more vividly. The officials called a halt and the stadium was ordered to be evacuated. The result was a storm stoppage from just after 8 pm until around 10 pm.
The Cougar offensive momentum from just prior to the delay was lost. The game became a defensive slug fest as rain poured from the skies. Jason Kennedy and Taylor recorded interceptions for the Cougars. Daymon Seiber, McCulley and Desmond Gilbert had bone crunching hits as Cocke County wasn’t able to get the ball down the field at all. The Cougar secondary, finally healthy, was able to shut down any attempt at a passing attack.
The teams exchanged punts, and in once case a long White interception that served as a defacto punt on 3rd down and very long, into the 4th quarter. The Fighting Cocks managed a foray into Campbell County territory only to see the Cougar defense snuff the drive on 4th down.
Finally in the 4th, the rain had stopped. The Cougars were just inside the Cocke County 40 yard line when White spotted a streaking Devlin Dukes, he rolled left and let fly a perfectly placed ball, and Dukes turned at the goalline, leaped into the air and snatched the ball over two Cocke County defenders. Johnson once more nailed the xp and the Cougars led 14-0.
The Cougar defense once again frustrated all Cocke County efforts to mount an offense. With 3 minutes left the Cougar offense took the field and ground out 1st downs until the clock expired.
It was a very long evening with the game wrapping up close to midnight. The Cougar defense was sterling and it shut down what was a potent offense the prior season. The Cougar offense had flashes of very high level play but the rain, slop and stoppage seemed to hurt them at times. Also penalties wiped away a 50 yard White to Dukes reception that would have led to 1st and goal, and another penalty erased a 30 yard White to Williams td pass.
The post game emotions were high as Coach Justin Price thanked his team for their efforts. Price’s voiced cracked as he told the kids to appreciate every moment of joy they can find in football and off the field in life.
Speaking with him post game, Price said that Jack was doing as well as can be expected at this point. He thanked the community for strongly supporting his family as they face many months ahead at Children’s Hospital.
The Cougars have a week to fix a few mistakes as they hit the road for Carter next Friday. If they can keep up their defensive momentum and shake some dropped passes and penalties on offense we could see a season of high level play. They will need their best effort quickly vs a tough district schedule that begins in week 3 with Oak Ridge.