The Cougars took to the road this week to take on the Gibbs Eagles. The game began with Gibbs winning the toss and taking the ball. They quickly set the tone for the evening ripping off long run after long run on a Cougar defense that had been very good against the run in 2019. The Gibbs triple option was unfortunately, a different story and the Eagles went up 7-0 quickly.
The Cougars took the ball and had a march of their own. Hunter White began spreading the ball around to Williams and Shepherd who made a few moves and got 1st down after 1st down. CJ Allen had a 9 yard run as well. The Cougars very quickly found themselves at the 31 yard line. White then spotted senior speed merchant Devlin Dukes on the sideline. Dukes dashed 31 yards with the White pass and it was 7-7 after Thomas Johnson’s xp sailed through the uprights.
Gibbs took the ball again after the Johnson kickoff and they began to rip off long runs again. Picking up 6 to 8 yards seemingly each down. The injuries to linebackers Daymon Seiber and Blake Taylor were slowing the Cougar D, even though the pair were still on the field battling. The efforts of they and other Cougar defenders weren’t enough as Gibbs went up 14-7.
This time the Cougar offense looked like it was going to march down the field again. White, who was 4-4 on the first drive hit the 1st 4 of his second drive too. He was 8-8 for around 80 yards and a touchdown before Shepherd couldn’t haul in a pass near the Gibbs 30. A few plays later the Cougars were forced to punt.
The Eagles cashed in on that possession as well, making the score 21-7 in the 2nd quarter. The Cougar offense returned to the field and went on the move into Gibbs territory again. This drive ended as a long White pass attempt to Devlin Dukes was intercepted. The Cougar defense had an inspired series this time out and they forced an Eagle punt with around 2 minutes remaining in the half.
The Cougar offense rolled down the field again on the arm of White and the legs and hands of Allen, Shepherd, Williams, Dukes and Mason Shanks. Shanks caught a pass at the Gibbs 11 and rumbled to the 9 yard line. Inexplicably the officials spotted the ball just outside the 11. Where Shanks had caught the pass rather than where his knee touched. It seemed to not matter as White fired an absolute bullet to Dukes in the right corner of the endzone. However this touchdown was nullified by a mysterious holding penalty. Photos appeared to show 3 Eagles and White in the vicinity of the flag and no other Cougars involved in the play. This flag made what should have been a 1st and goal inside the 10 with the proper spot, 1st and 27 from the 28 yard line. There then appeared to be a clock error that caused the Cougars not to get another shot at the endzone. White rolled right and had to throw the ball away, the officials blew the play dead but didn’t stop the clock. The final two seconds ticked off. The side judge who’d blown the play dead tried to get the ball for one more down but he was overruled by the umpire and the half ended.
What should have been 21-14, Cougar momentum and the ball to start the second half turned into Gibbs momentum and a 21-7 lead instead.
In the second half more of the same came to pass. Gibbs broke some long runs and the Cougars were faced with multiple penalties and several punts. Later the Cougars had a White touchdown run taken off the board, their second score lost via a penalty in the game. CJ Allen managed to bulldoze his way into the endzone behind center Brennon Byrge but it was too little too late. The Cougars came up on the bad side 42-14 in this one.
On the positive front, this was not a region game and that’s an area where the Cougars control their own destiny. The second half of the season will fold over the next 6 weeks. If the Cougars can match their 3-2 record of the first half of the season in the second they will be playoff bound. This seems rather more possible that it looked prior to the season. Fulton has faced attrition and their team is now 0-5 after losing to a Karns team that was 0-4 itself before Friday night. The Cougars will face a Clinton team who has struggled all season and the aforementioned Karns who got win 1 in week 5. West and Powell sit at a combined 10-0 this season and look to be the class of the region. Those will be tough games but the Cougars should only need 3 wins out of 5 to make their playoff push.