By Dan Callahan
Pulaski County’s quick strike offense scored from 37 yards out or farther five times in a, 52-27 Homecoming victory over Christiansburg in Dobson Stadium Friday. It was the sixth straight win for the Cougars, now 6-1 on the season.
As lopsided as the victory was, it could have been even more so if not for six penalties and three turnovers, but the Blue Demons could not overcome 518 yards of Pulaski County firepower.
But the Cougars lost three fumbles, were victimized by an on-sides kickoff, and had penalties that nullified almost 100 yards of offense. So the onslaught could have been worse.
“We certainly hurt ourselves some,” said PCHS head coach Stephen James. “Particularly early in the game we were not sharp, too many mistakes, too many penalties.”
But there was a lot to be pleased with. “We can certainly strike quick. We’ve got some kids that can make plays, we just need to stop making the bad plays in between the good ones, but we ran the ball well tonight. We need more of that. We’ve got three tough games coming up. We need to play clean, and not put ourselves in bad situations. When we don’t make mistakes, we give people a lot to worry about,” said James.
In the first quarter Jaceri Eaves ran untouched 39 yards for the first touchdown. Ryan Castle kicked the conversion. Immediately thereafter things went haywire. Demon quarterback Nick Cook hit Charles Nwaihesie out of the backfield down the middle of the field behind the Cougar secondary for an 82-yard touchdown. Then Mason Clark fumbled a punt and Christiansburg recovered at the Cougar one for a gift touchdown, and for the first time this season the Demons led in a game, 13-7.
But the rest of the half belonged to the Cougars. Kade Akers hit E.J. Horton on a crossing pattern and he zipped through the Christiansburg secondary for a 38-yard touchdown. With 2:28 left in the half Akers ran over from the two, but the Cougar defense held and Pulaski Co. had one more late opportunity, and Akers drilled Kellen Dalton with a quick pass down the hash. Dalton split the Demon secondary and zipped 55 yards to paydirt. Castle was good, and the score at the half we Pulaski Co., 28-13.
And the Cougars added to that quickly in the third quarter when Akers drilled Clark with a pass just inside the pylon for six, and it was, 35-13.
Following the kickoff it looked like Pulaski Co. was going to strike big again when Akers and Dalton hooked up for a 60-yard play, but holding nullified the gain that had moved all the way to the Demon one foot line. After another penalty the Cougars ended up punting out of their own end zone and the Demons had only to move 31 yards to score, this time on a one-yard run by Nwaihesie.
An on-sides kickoff attempt failed when Conner Martin recovered for the Cougars and soon thereafter Eaves turned the right end and ran untouched down the sideline 37 yards to the end zone. But the Demons would not go away and Cook passed to Kyle Hendricks from 13 yards out, and the Cougar lead was cut to, 42-27.
But Christiansburg could not contain the Cougar play makers. This time Akers passed short to Horton, he made a move, and set sail down the hash 54 yards to paydirt. Castle’s conversion kick made it, 49-27. There was one final score, and that came when Castle hit a 20-yard field goal, making him six for six on the season for the final, 52-27 tally.
It was the best rushing game of the season for Pulaski Co., and Eaves became the first player to rush for over 100 yards on the year. He finished with 111 on 12 carries. Jaylin Nowlin had 67 on 14 runs, Akers had 46 yards on seven attempts, and Dalton had two yards as the Cougars rushed for 247 yards on on 34 carries.
Akers was 13 of 20 passing for 271 yards, and four touchdowns as he nears the 2,000-yard passing mark for the season. Horton had four catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns, Dalton had two catches for 71 and six, Clark had four catches for 28 yards and a score, and Braeden Blevins had two catches for 39 yards. Eaves caught a pass for 11. Gage Mannon picked off his third pass interception of the season for the Cougars.
The Demons rushed for 133 yards on 31 carries with Nwaihesie getting 101 of those on 14 attempts. Cook was eight of 20 passing for 128 yards, and Nwaihesie had 83 of those yards.
Pulaski County will travel to Blacksburg next Friday to take on the 6-1 Bruins.