Cougars rally isn’t enough to top Bruins

Midway through the third quarter fans started leaving Christiansburg High School. Blacksburg (12-0) jumped out to a 28-0 lead over Pulaski (8-4) after a pick six from Brian Mitchell. Those same fans were in shock when hearing that the Cougars rallied back with 21 unanswered points and were set up in scoring position on their last drive. However, Pulaski came up just one yard short of converting a fourth-and-three inside the Bruins 20-yard line. The Bruins’ defense stood tough and denied Cougars’ running back Jakari Finley from getting the first down with under a minute remaining, securing the 28-21 victory.

Pulaski looked to avenge their 21-14 loss from the regular season but Blacksburg prepared to go 2-0 against the Cougars. Tiquest Terry returned to the line-up for the Bruins after not playing for over a month due to a hand injury. The elusive wide-receiver made an impact on the third play of the game as quarterback Grant Johnston connected with Terry on a 57-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0. Terry was targeted two more times during the game, as Pulaski adjusted their coverage to keep him in check.

On the next possession for Blacksburg, the Bruins went three plays for negative yardage and had to punt from their own 2-yard line. The botched punt set Pulaski up with good field position at the Blacksburg 32-yard line. Pulaski did not capitalize on the drive as it ended with a failed 49-yard field goal attempt that bounced off the left upright. The Cougars made it into Bruins territory again late in the first quarter but quarterback Cade Akers threw an interception to Mitchell in the end zone.

Late in the second quarter Blacksburg drove down inside the 5-yard line after a 30 yard completion from Johnston to Thomas Coffey. From there, Mitchell went on a scoring spree starting with an 8-yard touchdown plunge. Bruins led 14-0 at the break.

Mitchell found pay dirt again with 8:17 remaining in the third when he took the snap in wildcat formation and plowed into the end zone from three yards out. On Pulaski’s next possession, Mitchell showed out again with a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown with 6:17 remaining in the third quarter. Leading by 28, it looked as if that last score would secure the win for Blacksburg, but Pulaski found a spark.

The Cougars next possession consisted of an 11 play, 80 yard drive capped with a 10-yard touchdown run from Akers to give Pulaski their first points of the night. They trailed 28-7 with 1:12 remaining in the third.

After shutting down the Bruins defense, Pulaski went on another 80-yard scoring drive. The emotions started getting the best of Blacksburg as they committed three personal foul penalties on the drive.. With 7:44 remaining in the fourth, Akers scored again from two yards out to narrow the lead 28-14. The Cougars recovered the following onside kick at the Bruins 41 but the drive stalled out due to multiple personal foul penalties.

There was still hope as Tiquest lost a fumble on the following drive for Blacksburg. Seven plays later, Akers scored again with his legs from one yard out. Blacksburg still held a 28-21 advantage with only 2:21 left in the game.

While the Bruins knew what was coming next, they failed to recover the the onside kick and Pulaski had another chance to tie or win the game. That was until Finley got shut down on a fourth-and-three inside the Bruin 20-yard line. It was a great comeback effort from the Cougars, but Blacksburg held on just enough to get the win.

Both teams combined had 22 penalties for 225 yards.

Akers led Pulaski in rushing yards with 62 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns. He was 8-of-17 passing for 92 yards and two interceptions. Finley rushed for 60 yards on 23 carries. E.J Horton caught four passes for 40 yards.

For Blacksburg, Johnston completed 13-of-18 through the air for 180 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell finished with 50 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns and an interception return for a touchdown. Terry carried the ball eight times for 31 yards and caught three passes for 65 yards and a touchdown reception.

Blacksburg will host E.C Glass in the Region 4D Championship on Friday, kickoff at 7 p.m..



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