The number one 2A football team in the state, the Radford Bobcats, visited the Patrick County Cougars on October 13, and came away with a 55-27 win. Radford came in unbeaten at 7-0, having outscored their opponents by 262 points in previous games, but it was the Cougars who struck first on Friday.
On the opening kickoff, Jermaine Penn raced 95 yards for the touchdown, bringing the Cougar faithful to their feet, and grabbing the momentum from the Bobcats.
Wanting to keep the momentum, Cougar Head Coach David Morrison went for an onside kick. The ball appeared to hit a Bobcat player, and the Cougars pounced, giving them first and ten near midfield. A flag on the play led to a lengthy discussion amongst the officials. The ruling was offside, forcing another kickoff.
Radford grabbed the momentum back on their first play from scrimmage on a long throw, down to the Cougar five-yard line. After scoring on their next play, and a two-point conversion, the Bobcats took an 8-7 lead. Two more touchdowns added to their lead at 22-7.
Late in the first quarter, a Jermaine Penn run moved the Cougars deep into Bobcat territory, setting up a Reyli Martinez-Tejeda field goal, closing the gap to 22-10. After a Bobcat touchdown, the first quarter ended 29-10.
Opening the second quarter, the Cougars moved the ball downfield on the ground behind solid blocking. The drive, which included a fourth-down conversion, ended with another Martinez-Tejeda field goal, and a score of 29-13.
The Cougar defense stiffened on the next Bobcat drive, forcing a punt. Patrick County took over on their 30, but turned the ball over on a fumble that was initially returned for a touchdown. A Bobcat penalty took away their score, but still gave them the ball on the Cougar side of the field. A 30-yard touchdown run for Radford increased their lead to 35-10. Ethan Cobbler dashed around the line and blocked the Bobcat extra point kick.
Radford would score on a sixty-yard interception return and a touchdown, with 54 seconds left in the half to head into halftime with a 48-13 lead.
After Radford scored on the first drive of the second half to make the score 55-13, the Cougar defense made some adjustments.
After forcing the Bobcats to turn the ball over on downs, the Cougar offense took over. They marched 50-yards down the field behind solid blocking, ending the drive with an Easton Harris touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, the Cougar defense pressured the Bobcat quarterback often. The Bobcats turned the ball over after a bad snap got away from the quarterback. The Cougars would convert the turnover with another solid drive. A pass interference call against the Bobcats gave the Cougars a first down near the goal line. A Jermaine Penn touchdown run capped the drive, closing the gap 55-27 with 3:17 left in the game.
The Cougar defense was solid on the next drive, with Paul Pascale chasing down the Bobcat quarterback for a loss with little time left. The Cougars tried for a long pass as time ran out, ending the game 55-27.
But there were positives even in the loss.
Patrick County put up more points against Radford than any other team this season. Coach Morrison also liked the second half performance of the defense.
“We kind of dialed up the intensity a little bit and fixed a few things that we were looking at and we just played better defense overall in the second half,” said Morrison. “You know, we got down a few scores in the first half, and I thought we gave up a couple of scores that we shouldn’t have. They were able to tack on a couple of cheap scores on some big plays.
“You can’t take anything away from that Radford team. They’re number one in the state right now for a reason,” he said. “They’re a good team and they’ve got explosive players all over the field and they’ve got some kids that are just lightning in a bottle. You give them an inch and they’re going to run the field on you.”
Defensively, Jay Howard’s seven tackles, including one for a loss and a sack, led the Cougars. Paul Pascale and Joshua Jimrusti chipped in six tackles a piece with Stephen Spencer adding an interception and three tackles.
Coach Morrison thought the offense improved as the game went on. While not breaking long runs, they ground out the short gains that moved the ball.
“Sometimes, two or three yards on first down is a big play. You just don’t realize it until later in the down series. That’s one of those things we have to do a little better job of executing the entire offense. Not just the x’s and o’s, but the whole tempo and pace of the offense, everything we want to do, we have to do it a little better,” he said.
Jermaine Penn led the offense with 147 yards rushing, and 117 yards on kick returns. Reyli Martinez-Tejeda was perfect on the night, going 2-2 on field goals and 2-2 on extra point attempts.
Looking ahead, Coach Morrison said, “we’ve got to be able to run the football, to open up the passing game. We can move the ball through the air when we need to, but we’ve got to have a solid run game in order for us to be successful in the last few games of the season and moving into the postseason. If you don’t have a running game, you’re not going to be a very successful football team. That’s all there is to it.”
The Cougars will visit Alleghany High, in Covington on October 20th in a Three Rivers District matchup.