Cougars Beat Corning in Rivalry Contest
A longtime Clay County football rivalry was renewed Friday night at Temerian Field in Rector, as the Cougars and Corning Bobcats met in non-conference play. Although the two teams scrimmaged last year, it marked the first time the squads have met since the RHS program was revived.
With a large crowd of faithful in attendance, the boys in blue gutted out a 15-14 victory. And, although it was not significant as far as conference standings go, it provided the program with a huge shot in the arm as they posted their first season opening win, and victory of someone other than Midland, in several years.
“Well, let me tell you we didn't give up,” Cougar Coach David Hendrix said afterward. “Those guys over there are a whole lot better than they've been, and what they've shown so far. They came here to win a football game, and we just wouldn't let them—that's pretty much it.”
The contest itself was a tight as the final score, with neither team able to gain much of an advantage on either side of the football. The difference in the game came on big plays, as both squads made outstanding efforts.
The Bobcats got the ball first, with Max Ford delivering a knuckle-ball kickoff to the Corning 27. On the running of Clay Smith and Gary Comstock, the visitors mounted a strong opening drive, only to fumble the ball away inside the Rector 20.
The Cougars also had issues moving the ball early, and were forced to punt it away a short time later.
In turn, the Bobcats also had issues in getting their offense on track in the first half of play, as they fumbled it back to their hosts and turned the ball over on downs to kill drives. To add to their woes, late in the half Comstock was flagged for a personel foul, and got an early trip to the bus.
With time running down in the second quarter, the Cougars pushed the ball deep into Corning territory. But, the host team ran out of time on the five yard line, sending the two teams into the locker room tied at 0-0.
Rector got the ball first in the second half, and mounted a long drive which burned up most of the quarter. Strong runs by Kale Hardin and Parker Bucy, combined with a pass reception from Conly Lockhart, highlighted the drive.
Bucy picked up a key first down at the four minute mark of the third, then scored the Cougars first touchdown with 2:30 to play as he followed his line into the end zone. Ford added the PAT, and the Rector squad enjoyed a 7-0 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter the Bobcats got on the board, as Nikota Amiker broke a 60 yard touchdown run with 11:08 to play in regulation. The visitors also notched the two point conversion, taking an 8-7 lead.
The following drive saw Ford pull down two key passes from Bucy, including a long strike which carried the team down to the 25. Several plays later Bucy hit Lockhart in the end zone, extending the Cougar lead to 13-8. This time Coach Hendrix dialed-up a two point conversion play, with Bucy hitting Ford for the conversion. And, with 5:57 to play the hosts led 15-8.
Things got a little crazy as the fourth quarter progressed, and the Bobcats tried to get back into the game.
After swapping possessions, the Cougars found themselves facing fourth and 11 from their own 34 yard line and chose to punt it away. But, the punt was blocked, and Corning scooped and scored to cut the lead to 15-14 with 2:47 to play.
Prior to the kickoff the Corning bench was hit with a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and were backed up 30 yards. One of the Corning assistants also left the field.
The onside kick attempt went straight to Ford, who covered the ball for the Cougars.
With 2:21 showing, the Rector squad only had to take care of the football to post the win as time ran out on the Bobcat defense.
“We were fortunate to get a couple of big stops, and we made a couple of pass plays when we really needed to. But, it feels pretty good to get those plays, we've been on the other end of it for too long,” Hendrix said later. “We just need to keep getting better for conference.”
Bucy was nine for 11 passing for 117 yards, with Ford hauling down six passes for 101 yards and Lockhart catching three for the other 16 yards—and one of the Cougar touchdowns. Hardin led the rushing effort with 52 yards on nine carries; Evan Dooley had nine carries for 48 yards; Ford carried the ball eight times for 43 yards, and recorded both the Rector PATs and Bucy had six yards on three carries and the other touchdown.
With the win the Cougars begin their season at 1-0 while the Bobcats fall to 0-2, and extend their losing streak to 34 games in a row. The Rector squad will be on the road this week to wrap up the non-conference schedule at Piggott, while the Bobcats will host EPC.