The Cougar football team evened its record at 2-2 for the season with a dominating, 27-17 win over the visiting Ohio County Eagles last Friday evening at Cougar Field.
The Eagles came into the game undefeated and were averaging 262 yards-per-game through the air. Sophomore quarterback Heath Simmons had thrown for 786 yards and five touchdowns in the Eagles’ first three games, but the Cougar defense limited him to just 119 yards on this night.
Grayson County’s aerial game had been non-existent through its first three games, but against the Eagles had some key completions. Though the Cougars had just 68 passing yards, freshman Noah Bullock and junior Tristan Willis both threw touchdown passes on the night.
Senior Jacob Vincent led the Cougar defense with 10 tackles, eight of which were solo tackles. Senior Matthew Haycraft and sophomore Connor Mann both had seven tackles on the night.
The Eagles were forced to punt on their first two possessions, with the Cougars taking over at their own 26 following the second punt. From there, they started their first scoring drive.
Dustin Woosley carried for 11 yards on first down, before Josh Meredith took the ball into Eagle territory at the 47. Facing a third-and-10 there, a Cougar pass fell incomplete, but the Eagles were flagged for pass interference, setting up the Cougars with a first down at the Eagle 37.
A first-down run lost six yards, but on second down, Bullock hit senior Nathaniel Shartzer with a short pass over the middle. Shartzer broke one tackle before finding clear sailing down the Cougar sideline, taking it 43 yards for the touchdown. Walker Bailey’s extra-point try was good, and with 3:15 left in the first quarter, the Cougars led 7-0.
The Eagles responded with their first scoring drive of the night. On second-and-three at the Eagle 48, senior Brice Phelps rambled 45 yards, down to the Cougar seven. Three plays could only advance the ball three more yards and the Eagles were forced into a field-goal attempt. Kicker Kennedy Addington split the uprights from 21-yards out and the Eagles were on the board, trailing 7-3 with 26 seconds left in the opening period.
The Cougars took over on their own 23 following the Eagle’s kick-off, and the Cougar set sail on their second scoring drive of the night. They took 5:31 and 10 plays to cover the 77 yards for their second score.
The key play on the drive came when the Cougars went into punt formation on fourth-and-nine at their own 32. Woosley, who does the punting for the Cougars, faked like he was going to punt the ball, but instead took off running around the right side. He gained 12 yards, good enough for a first down to keep the drive alive.
Facing a third-and-three at the Eagles’ 30-yard line, Jordan Stallings found an empty field in front of him on a counter play and took it in for another TD. Bailey’s kick was no good, but with 6:47 remaining in the first half, the Cougars led 13-3.
On the ensuing Eagle possession, Woosley, playing safety on defense, made a great break on a Simmons pass, stepping in front of the intended receiver for an interception. With no one to stop him, Woosley raced 54 yards for the score that put the Cougars in front 20-3 at the 3:35 mark. The first half ended with the Cougars still holding that 20-3 lead.
Grayson County had the ball to start the third quarter, and had moved into Eagle territory before losing a fumble and giving the Eagles the ball at the Cougar 41.
The Eagles were able to take the ball to the five before the Cougars stopped them on downs. But when Grayson County could gain only nine yards on three plays, they were forced to punt it away. Woosley boomed a 51-yard punt and the Eagles took over at their own 33.
Ohio then moved for their first touchdown of the game, taking 11 plays to move 67 yards. Simmons carried in from two yards out with under a minute left in the period to make it 20-10.
After the Cougars were stopped on their first possession of the final period, Grayson County’s defense rose up and stopped the Eagles when they tried to convert a fourth down at their own 24.
With Tristan Wills at quarterback, Stallings gained yardage to the 10 and a first-and-goal. The Cougars moved the ball to the seven before a second down pass failed to connect. On third down, Willis hit senior Zach Johnson in the back of the end zone for Grayson County’s final score of the night, making it 27-10 with 4:05 remaining to be played.
The Eagles then moved quickly down-field, moving 69 yards in just 1:49 to score.with Noah Miller was on the receiving end of a Simmons pass from 28 yards out to make it 27-17 with 2:19 left to play.
The Eagles made it interesting when, on the ensuing kick-off, they recovered an onside kick at the Grayson County 44, but three plays later Josh Meredith stripped the ball from an Eagle receiver, giving the Cougars the ball at their own 29 with 1:34 left to play. From there they were able to run out the clock to preserve the win.
Grayson County will host the Butler County Bears this coming Friday evening for Homecoming. The Bears (3-1) come in averaging better than 45 points per game. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016