The Cougar football team made its season-opener a successful one last Friday night, never trailing as they defeated the visiting Hancock County Hornets 34-22 at Cougar Field.
The game was not really as close as the final score might indicate as the Hornets scored their final touchdown with under a minute to play.
Unofficially, the Cougars ran 43 times for 251 yards, including 102 by senior Dalton Logsdon on 19 carries. Logsdon also scored one rushing touchdown. Senior Dustin Crain ran 13 times for 64 yards, and sophomore quarterback Talon Gary carried 13 times for 82 yards. Gary scored once and Crain had two runs for scores. Gary also completed 2-of-6 passes for 54 yards, including a 20-yard scoring strike to Dylan Woodcock.
The Cougars wasted little time in getting on the board, moving 65 yards on the opening possession of the season to score on Crain’s one-yard plunge. The big play of the drive came on the Cougars first play from scrimmage, when Gary ran 49 yards, from the Cougar 35 down to the Hornet 16. Michael Thomas added the extra point and with 9:37 remaining in the first quarter, it was 7-0.
The Hornets answered right back, driving 75 yards in a little over three minutes to score on a four-yard run by Trevor Garrison. But on the extra-point try, Logsdon broke through the middle of the line and got a hand up to block the kick and the Cougars still held the lead at 7-6.
Grayson County moved to the Hornet 39 on its next possession, but was forced to punt and the Hornets took over at their own nine. Two plays later, the Hornets fumbled the ball and Taylor Wright was there to pounce on the loose ball and the Cougars were in business again at the Hornet 15.
Three plays lost five yards, and as the first period ended, the Cougars faced a fourth and 15 situation at the 20. On the first play of the second quarter, Gary passed over the middle to Woodcock at about the seven-yard line. The sophomore receiver broke to his left and found blocking that allowed him to take the ball into the end zone untouched for another Cougar score. Thomas again added the extra point and with 11:53 left in the period, it was 14-6.
After moving from their own 45 down to the Hornet 23 on their next possession, the Cougar drive stalled and the Hornets took over on downs at their own 40. After the Hornet drive stalled, the Cougars took over on their own 33 and started another scoring drive.
Gary hit Crain with a 34-yard pass play on second down, taking the ball into Hornet territory at the 38. Crain then ripped off 24 yards, down to the 14 before Gary took it the rest of the way for the score. Thomas’ extra point made it 21-6 with 6:03 left in the half.
The Cougars got another big break on the next Hornet possession when senior Caleb Ashley recovered a Hancock fumble at the Hornet 13. Two plays later, Logsdon took the ball into the end zone from 10 yards out and the Thomas kick made the score 28-6. That was the score as the half ended.
When the Cougars took possession of the ball at their own four-yard line with 4:33 left ion the third quarter, neither team had been able to score. But two plays later, the Hornets tackled Crain in the end zone for a safety that made it 28-8.
As the third quarter ended, the Hornets had moved from their own 22 to a third-and-two at the Grayson County 45. As the fourth quarter began, Hornet wing back Justin Hamilton gained 25 yards for a Hornet first down. On the next play, Hamilton took it in for the score. A two-point conversion was good, and the Hornets were back in the game at 28-16 with 10:53 remaining to be played.
Grayson County then went into hurry-up mode. Going without a huddle, the Cougars blitzed the Hornets on a 71-yard, eigh- play drive for a score that took a second under two minutes to complete.
Logsdon did most of the heavy lifting on the drive, carrying five times for 67 yards. Crain carried in from a yard out. After the Hornets were offside on the extra-point attempt, the Cougars ran a two-point try, but came up short to make it 34-16 with 8:47 remaining.
As the game was winding down, the Hornets moved 70 yards in 12 plays and scored with just 51 seconds remaining to make the score a bit more respectable. A two point try failed and the Cougars started celebrating their opening win.
The Cougars will travel to Cecilia next Friday to take on the Central Hardin Bruins. It will be Central’s first game of the season. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m.