By Dan Callahan
Pulaski County’s “Pocket Rocket,” Hunter Thomas ran for 227 yards on only eight carries and the Cougars rambled through Christiansburg, 42-0 at the 42nd Homecoming at PCHS. The victory upped the Cougars to 5-1 on the season, and dropped the Demons to 0-6.
It was an especially satisfying victory for Pulaski Co. after a disappointing defeat at Patrick Henry last week, and this was a total domination and the score could have been much worse, but Stephen James and his Cougar coaching staff emptied the bench very early in the third quarter and every player in a gold hat saw plenty of playing time to make it a happy Homecoming 2016.
“That was a satisfying win,” said James. “As a staff, we are pleased. The team was focused. I think our players took what happened last week personally, and I’m glad they did. I think that’s good. They had their pride dented, and didn’t like it. This team has goals, and from the beginning I have felt this team is very serious about what it wants to accomplish, and last week disappointed them. But the game is about blocking and tackling, and we blocked better, and we tackled better. We had a lot kids play well tonight, but now we must switch our focus to next Friday when we play at Blacksburg. It’s a totally different challenge, and we have work to do,” said James.
Thomas by no means was a one-man show. He averaged a shocking 28.4 yards per carry, and scored four touchdowns on big runs, however, quarterback Bryant Grubb ran for 95 yards, got the first score of the game, and averaged 13.5 yards per carry on just seven runs. Jamall Edmonds had a good night running with the football too, getting 56 yards on seven carries, an 8.0 average.
Thomas’ four touchdown runs covered a total of 202 yards. Thomas now has over 1,200 yards rushing on the season and 18 touchdowns. His scoring runs came on blitzes of 25, 57, 67, and 53 yards. Thomas final touchdown came on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, and he never touched the pigskin again. In fact, the game went to a continuous clock right from the second half kickoff as the Cougars were up 35-0 at the break. It took just 22 seconds of the second half, the kickoff return and Thomas’ gallop for the final points in the game to be scored.
Grubb got the Cougars rolling with a 75-yard sprint midway in the first quarter outrunning the entire Blue Demon secondary. Edmonds also scored with a power run of 13 yards right up the gut of the Christiansburg defense. Following Thomas’ run to open the second half, the backup offense, and even some junior varsity players went the rest of the way for the Cougars. Shortly after that, the starting defense headed for the bench, and it was a stubborn effort by the backups that held the first unit of Christiansburg out of the end zone twice from inside the red zone.
Franklin County only managed one touchdown vs. the Cougar defense, and Northside had only two field goals, but this was the first shutout of the season. The Blue Demons finished with only 74 total yards, and finished the first quarter with minus yards and not a single first down. Christiansburg got only 56 yards on 33 running attempts, and completed only four of 15 passes for 18 yards. The front of Drew Allen, Zach Dones, and Caleb Bishop overpowered the Demon offensive line. The linebacking corps of Jeff McDonald, Edmonds, Reymon Williams, and Alex Akers had solid games, and help pressure Demon passing attempts. The secondary play of Jon Osteen, Dontay Brown, and Conner Martin was outstanding. The shutout was earned.
Ryan Castle was two for three on extra point kicks, and Thomas and Edmonds both had two-point conversion runs. Eight players had at least one carry for Pulaski Co. Grubb was three of eight passing for 28 yards with all three receptions going to his tight ends. McDonald had two receptions for 25 yards, and Andrew Lowe had one for three.
Christiansburg actually dominated possession time in the game and snapped the football 71 times which meant gaining 74 total yards was just barely a yard a snap. Pulaski Co. had a total offense of 432 yards and rushed the football for 404 yards, but scored so quick, they needed only 39 plays. While the Blue Demons barely managed to gain a yard a play, the Cougars averaged almost 11 yards per snap. It would have been far more, but James basically shut the offense down, The first unit had only the one play in the second half. To say it was a dominating victory for the Cougars would be an understatement, but it was also a gracious and kind victory as well.