On a night when Grayson County turned over the football seven times, the visiting Edmonson County Wildcats steamrolled the Cougars 43-7 to claim the coveted Tobacco Stick by a mercy-rule score of 43-7.
Cougar fans had little to celebrate as they watched their team lose four fumbles, have one punt blocked and another turned over on a bad snap, and turn the ball over on downs on another possession. Those turnovers led directly to five Wildcat touchdowns and one field goal.
The lone bright spot on the evening came in the third quarter when junior Josh Meredith scored the only Cougar touchdown on a 52-yard scamper.
After the Cougars held on the Wildcats’ first possession of the game, Grayson County took over at their own 38. But on first down, a fumbled exchange led to an eight-yard loss. Two more running plays could only advance the ball a yard, and the Cougars set up to punt the ball away.
But the Wildcats broke through and blocked the punt and covered the ball at the Cougar 15. Four plays later, running back Daniel Caudill carried in from four yards out to put the visitors in front to stay. Brett Brennon’s extra point was wide, but at the 7:17 mark the Wildcats led 6-0.
On the ensuing kick off, Zach Johnson fielded the ball along the sideline, but stepped out of bounds at the Cougar 11-yard line. On first down, the Cougars lost their first fumble of the evening, setting up the Wildcats at the 10.
Grayson County’s defense, aided by a Edmonson County holding call, held and forced the Wildcats into a 29-yard field goal attempt. But the Cats were whistled for a delay of game penalty and the ball was moved back five yards. It hardly mattered though as Brennon hit from 34 yards out to give the Cats a 9-0 lead with 5:18 left in the first period.
Grayson County was forced into a punting situation on its next possession with a fourth-and-four at their own 36. A bad snap sailed over the head of the punter, Dustin Woosley, and after a mad scramble for the loose ball, the Wildcats’ Tyler Harris covered it at the Cougar one.
From there it took just one play for Cat quarterback Tucker Cole to carry into the end zone to make it 16-0.
Grayson County failed to convert on a fourth down at their own 44 and the Cats took over on downs. As the first period ended they had moved deep into Cougar territory at the 14.
But on the first play of the second quarter, the Wildcats fumbled and Charlie Rafferty pounced on the loose ball giving it back to the Cougars at the 13.
Not being able to stand prosperity, Grayson County gave it right back with another fumble on first down, and the Cats were in business again at the 14. Four plays later Cole carried for his second touchdown putting the Cats up 23-0.
Grayson County went three-and-out once more and were forced to punt. Following Woosley’s 40-yard punt, the Cats took over at their own 32. They then moved 68 yards in five plays to score again with 5:40 left in the first half. Zach Farmer carried in from a yard out to put the Cats on top 30-0, which was the score as the half ended.
Grayson County had the ball to start the third quarter and got off to a promising start as Gage Watson picked up the first Cougar first down of the night at the Cougar 34. But on the next play they lost the ball again on a fumble and the Cats were in business again at the Cougar 45.
On a third-and-13 play at the Cougar 25, wide receiver Logan Lindsey got behind the Cougar defense and Cole hit him right in stride for a 25-yard touchdown strike. Brennon’s kick was good and at the 6:42 mark the Cats led 37-0. The clock then began to run continuously by the mercy rule.
Following the kick, the Cougars took over at their own 43. One play gained three yards and on second down Meredith took a pitchout around the left side. Cutting upfield, Meredith found open ground and beat several defenders to the end zone to put the Cougars on the board at 37-7.
Momentum seemed to shift as on the ensuing kickoff, a Wildcat fumble gave the Cougars the ball at the 27-yard line of the visitors, but a holding penalty and a quarterback sack forced another punting situation at the Wildcat 45.
The punt snap was a good one this time, but Woosley appeared to take his eye off the ball and the ball bounced off his hands and the Cats had excellent field position again at the Cougar 33.
One running play moved the ball to the 25, from where Caudill broke any number of tackles as he carried in for the final score of the evening to make itm 43-7.
The Cougars (1-2) will be at home again this coming Friday as they host the Ohio County Eagles (3-0) who are coming off a 13-7 win over Hancock County. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext 2016.