LEITCHFIELD - The Cougar football team made its 2006 debut last Friday evening with a scrimmage game at Cougar Field against the Hart County Raiders.
With each team getting 10 downs to try to score, the Cougars scored on their first possession and held that lead until Hart got a score of its own on its second-to-last possession. The Cougars then scored on their last possession and the defense held Hart to preserve the scrimmage win.
The Cougars used a good mix of running and passing to score on their first possession. Starting at their own 40, freshman Aaron Deviney gained eight yards on a pitch out to get the Cougars rolling. Following a five-yard run, Cougar junior quarterback Jacob Hicks dropped back to pass, but had to scramble and wound up gaining 23 yards, down to the Raider 24-yard line.
On the next play, Hicks hooked up with junior Brian Grant on a pass to the Raider 15, then Grant carried the ball to the seven. On the sixth play of the possession, Hicks pitched to tailback Lance Boone on a sweep of the left side and the senior took it into the end zone for the first score.
On the first Hart possession, the defense was rock solid. They forced a fumble on the first play from scrimmage on a Neil Brown tackle. After Hart made an excursion into Cougar territory, they were forced back by penalties.
On the sixth play, Brad Harrison swooped in to blow up a sweep for a seven-yard loss, then on the seventh, Boone picked off a Raider pass and carried it back to the Hart County 39. On their last three plays, Hart County managed to get the ball back to the Cougar 46 before giving it back to the home team.
On the Cougars' next possession, a slant pass to junior Kent Rudnick on the third play gained 16 yards. A later penalty moved the ball back back to midfield, but on the sixth play, Hicks connected with Deviney on a flat pass that took the ball to the Hart County 31. Harrison then carried down to the 16, but the Cougar drive stalled and they gave the ball back after Hicks was sacked on the final play of the possession.
Hart County moved the ball better on its next possession and fooled the Cougar defense completely on a reverse play that carried from the Cougar 35 to the 15 on the fifth play of the possession.
The Cougar defense then stiffened. Boone broke up a pass attempt, then senior Blake Newton stopped a running play for a four-yard loss. On the eighth play, sophomore Stephen Probus sacked the Hart quarterback at the 25. On the ninth play, Boone stopped a screen pass at the 18.
On the final play, the Raiders went back to the reverse play that had worked so well a few plays before. It worked again this time, but the Cougars' Deron Rudnick was able to stop the runner at the two to hold the Raiders out of the end zone.
The second offenses came out on the field on the next two series and the Cougars barely scratched their way into Hart territory on their 10 plays. Hart, on the other hand, reached the Cougar 20 on the eighth play of their possession, but a penalty moved it back to the 36. They then threw a slant pass that appeared headed for a score, but junior Steven Hayes made a touchdown-saving tackle and the Cougars held on the final play to keep Hart scoreless.
The varsity teams returned to the field for the final four possessions. On Grayson County's third play, Boone was able to recover a terrible pitch out and race 35 yards to the Raider 25, but a block-in-the-back call moved it back to the Grayson County 35. That killed any Cougar chances and they gave the ball back to the Raiders.
Hart quickly gained 18 yards on its first two carries then the Cougar defense had its only big letdown of the day. A deep pass which looked as though it should have been picked off went for a 42-yard touchdown to tie things up. Hart still had seven plays, but the Cougar defense kept them bottled up and took possession back still tied at one score apiece.
Another bad pitch on the fourth play put the Cougars in a hole at their own 34-yard line, but Hicks began getting hot with his throwing arm. After he ran the ball for six yards, Hicks completed a pass to Kent Rudnick to the Raider 49. He then connected with Boone for a gain of 14 then passed to Deviney, who took the ball down to the seven. On the ninth play, Grant took the ball the final few yards to score the go-ahead touchdown.
On Hart's final possession, nine plays had only moved the ball to the Cougar 45 and on the final play, Newton stopped a pass in the flat for a loss and the Cougars went into celebration mode.