But that’s just what the Cougars did last Friday night as they lost to Edmonson County in the Tobacco Bowl 14-8. Even after all those miscues, the Cougars still had a chance to tie or win it at the end as they had the ball deep in Wildcat territory in the last minute of play. But Grayson County could not convert a fourth-and-one and the Wildcats took over at their own 11 with just 40 seconds left to play and ran out the clock.
It was a case of determining just how much blood loss would be fatal after you continually shot yourself in the foot.
The loss overshadowed a really superb job by the Cougar defense, which held the Wildcats to just 23 total yards in the second half. The Wildcat touchdowns all came in the first half. Following the Cougars’ first fumble of the night near midfield, the Wildcats took three plays to move in for the first score as senior running back Zach Vincent carried nine yards for the touchdown. The big play in the drive was a 33-yard pass play from quarterback Brent Smith to senior wide receiver Thomas Johnson.
In the second quarter, a Cougar penalty erased a big gain for a first down by senior Johnathan Higdon and the Cougars were forced to punt at the Wildcat 48. The snap sailed high over the head of the Cougar punter, all the way back to the Cougar 26, where the Wildcats took over.
Three plays later, Smith snuck over from the one-yard line to put the Wildcats on top 14-0.
In between those two scores, the Cougars had moved 44 yards to a first-and-10 at the Wildcat 15. Senior Bradley Harrison carried twice to the six, but on third-and-two, quarterback Hunter Gary was sacked at the 10. A fourth-down pass fell incomplete and the Wildcats had dodged their first bullet.
The Cougars had the ball first in the second half and threatened to score again. They converted a third-and-15 situation when Harrison carried to the 19, but on the next play quarterback Jake Clemons fumbled the snap and the Wildcats recovered at the 20.
The defense forced the Wildcats to punt and the Cougars took over with excellent field position at the Edmonson 40. On second down Harrison ran for 11 yards, to the 28, then Gary ran the ball to the nine, setting up a first-and-goal. But on second down, junior Dustin Thomas was hit and fumbled and Edmonson County recovered the ball at the seven.
On first down, the Cougars sacked Smith back at the two, then on second down, Harrison got in from his outside linebacker spot and tackled Smith in the end zone, putting the Cougars on the board with the safety. It was 14-2 with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
Following the Wildcats’ free kick, the Cougars again had great field position, taking over at the Edmonson County 47. Harrison carried for three yards, then Higdon ran 10 more for a first down at the 34. But on the next play the fumble bug bit for the fourth time and the Wildcats jumped on the loose ball to end that threat.
The Cougar defense forced a three-and-out and took over again at their own 34 with 13 seconds left in the period. As the fourth quarter got under way, the Cougars faced a fourth-and-five situation at midfield, but Higdon got free for 13 yards and the Cougar drive kept going.
Gary got free for a big gain, down to the 15, but another penalty, this time for holding, moved it back to the 46. Harrison carried for five before Gary got free again, carrying to the 16. There were no flags this time and the gain stood.
Gary carried twice more, to just outside the goal line, before sneaking over for the touchdown. Gary’s extra-point kick was blocked, but with 8:02 remaining, the Cougars were within striking distance at 14-8.
Head coach Ed Smart then rolled the dice on the kickoff and came up with a seven. An on-side kick was recovered by the Cougars at the Wildcat 45, and the excitement on the sidelines was palpable. The Cougars were sure they were headed for the lead.
Harrison carried for 12 yards on first down, then Higdon gained eight. But Gary was sacked on the next play at the 27 and on a third-and-five, the Cougars lost their last fumble with the Wildcats taking over at their own 27 with 6:23 left to play.
Edmonson was able to take over four minutes off the clock and move the ball out to the 40 before Grayson County forced a punt. Taking over at their own 34, the Cougars quickly moved into Wildcat territory. Two carries by Harrison moved the ball to the Wildcat 25 and a facemask penalty on the last tackle moved it five more to the 20. But the Wildcats stiffened and the Cougars faced a fourth-and-one at the 11 and called a timeout with 54 seconds left to play.
The Cougars had been making big yardage on the outside during their final drive, but on the final play tried something inside. The Wildcats stuffed the play for no gain and took over at the 11 and the sideline began celebrating the transfer of the Tobacco Stick.
Grayson County will play host to the Bears of Butler County this coming Friday night at Cougar field. That game is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.