Cougars Dominate Panthers for Home Win
The Rector Cougars hosted 3A Yellville-Summit Friday night at Paul Temerian Field, and pounded the visiting Panthers by a final of 41-20. The boys in blue scored early, and often, en route to the non-conference rout as they notched their second win of the season.
The Panthers would get first shot at the football Friday night, as Rector's Max Ford kicked it deep. But, the Cougar defense was stingy, as they forced Yellville-Summit to punt the ball a short time later. Taking over on their own 34, the Cougars put together their first scoring drive behind strong runs by Evan Dooley, Kale Hardin and Ford. Facing second and goal from the Panther one, Ford carried it in over the right side with 6:11 to go in the first quarter. With Ford adding the PAT, the Cougars took a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing drive the Panthers would give the ball back to the home team, as they fumbled on their own 39 and it was recovered by Jason Braman.
Quarterback Parker Bucy, and the Cougar offense, took the field once again and began to mount another drive. It was advanced on a third down pass completion to Ford, as Bucy fired a bullet which was caught in front of the Panther bench.
The drive stalled a short time later, as the Rector offense was flagged for a penalty and Bucy was dropped for a loss. In response, Clayton Morgan punted the ball back to the Panthers, who took over at their own 15 with less than a minute to go in the first.
As the quarter drew to a close, Panther quarterback Eli Cagle turned to the passing game, which would lead to the first Yellville-Summit score. Moving the ball downfield on several completions, Cagle capped the drive with a two yard touchdown run with 9:26 left in the first half. But, the Cougar special teams stuffed Cagle on the two point conversion attempt, as the Rector squad maintained a 7-6 lead.
The Cougar offense continued to roll on the next series, getting strong runs from both Dooley and Ford. The drive was also advanced on a pass from Bucy to Ford, with the talented junior taking on most of the Panther defense as he carried the ball inside the 20.
Mid-way through the quarter the Cougars converted on fourth down, one of several key conversions on the night, to push deep into Panther territory. Ford added to the score with a nine yard touchdown run moments later, then kicked the PAT to give the home team a 14-6 advantage with just over five minutes left in the first half.
On the following drive the Panthers again looked to the passing game, getting a long gainer from Frazier as defender Hardin went for the interception. The drive was kept alive by a key fourth and six play, with Dobbs ending the drive with a touchdown run at the 3:56 mark of the second quarter.
But, once again the Cougar special teams were on the ball, stopping the two point conversion attempt to set the score at 14-12 Rector.
On the following possession, the Cougars quickly moved the ball downfield with Dooley getting the third touchdown of the night on a nine yard run. Once again Ford added the PAT, as the hosts extended their lead to 21-12 late in the first half.
Getting a stop on the next series, the Rector offense tried to add to the lead before intermission but Bucy was picked-off in the end zone late in the quarter. Unable to score again, the Cougars took a nine point advantage into the locker room.
The second half began with the Panthers kicking to the Cougars, with Hardin covering a short on-sides kick attempt. Bucy then set-up shop again, but the Rector offense faltered as they fumbled the ball back to the visitors.
Unable to capitalize on the turnover, the Panthers were forced to go for it on fourth down at the 9:28 mark of the third, but the Cougar defense held and the ball went over on downs.
Looking to add to their lead, the Rector offense began another scoring drive which was extended on a long pass from Bucy to Patterson, deep into the visitor's territory. On the play the Panthers were also called for a personnel foul, which would move the ball to the two yard line. Moments later Bucy scored on the keeper, with Ford adding the PAT to extend the Rector lead to 28-12.
On the following drive the Panthers would get their third, and final, touchdown as Dobbs caught a pass from Cagle and carried it about 40 yards to paydirt. Yellville-Summit then added the two point conversion on the sweep, as they cut the Rector lead to 28-20 with 5:37 left in the third.
Whistled for a personnel foul on the conversion, the Panther kickoff was moved up 15 yards, with Baker making the return. The Cougar offense then got back down to business, moving the ball crisply behind the running of Dooley, Ford and Bucy. But, the turnover bug once again bit the boys in blue, as they coughed it up around mid-field.
As time began to wind-down in the third, the Rector defense continued to hold serve as they forced several third and fourth down situations. With under a minute to play in the quarter, Yellville-Summit was once again facing fourth down—this time at the Rector 30.
Looking to convert on the sweep once again, Morgan spoiled the play and tackled Dobbs for a loss—as the Cougars would get the ball back. As the third quarter drew to a close, Rector looked to increase the eight point advantage.
Unable to mount a scoring drive, the effort came up short as the Cougars turned the ball over on downs with 8:38 left.
This time the Rector defense once again answered the call, with strong play along the line by Trace Sanders, Braman and Gage Parrish. Forcing a punt, the Cougar offense would take over with good field position.
Rector would add two more touchdowns in the final five minutes of the game, the first coming on a 46 yard run by Ford on a third-and-eight. Ford then lined-up for another PAT, but this time it squibbed off his foot as the score remained at 34-20.
Despite being flagged for pass interference, the Cougars also got a stop on the following drive. Applying pressure to the quarterback, the Rector defensive backs stymied the Panther offense and forced yet another fourth down late. On the play Ford made a key tackle, as the Cougars got the ball back at the 3:40 mark.
Moments later Dooley broke a long run for the Cougars, carrying the ball inside the Panther five, as the boys in blue were knocking on the door once again. Two plays later Dooley got the nod, carrying the ball in from about two yards out to make it 40-20 with just over two minutes to play. Ford once again added the PAT, setting the final at 41-20.
In turn, the Rector defense continued to stifle the Panthers on the ensuing drive as time ran out on their efforts to score again.
“You know, earlier they were kind of gassing us off-tackle. But, we made a couple of adjustments and a couple of our kids studded-up and we stopped them,” Cougar Coach David Hendrix said of the effort. “They've got that one kid, you know he's a college receiver and we had to double cover him all night, but he still made a lot of plays. But, our kids were resilient.”
Despite the lopsided score, Hendrix also pointed to room for improvement. “If we don't turn the ball over, if we'd just hang on to it we'd probably pulled away a little earlier,” he added. “We've gotta correct that.”
Dooley paced the team in rushing with 111 yards while Ford finished with 104 yards on the ground, and another 65 through the air. Both scored two touchdowns in the rout.
Bucy passed for 180 yards, and ran for a touchdown, while Hardin finished with 45 yards rushing and Patterson had 60 yards receiving in the win.
“I'm just proud of these guys, they worked their tails off this week and it would have been real easy to hang your head when we fumbled, and it was a one score game,” Hendrix added. But you know our defense stuffed them and we came back. I'm just proud of them.”
Hendrix also had praise for the offense, as they worked to protect the second half lead.
“We got back to what we do, you know, it's what I learned a long time ago from the Smith brothers, and Coach Temerian before that, and it's what I've run all the way through,” he said of the power running game. “We could do other things, but right there at the end we just tried to eat the clock and run at them and see who's who. That's what we do.”
With the win the Cougars moved to 2-3 overall and remain 0-2 in 2A-3 conference play. This week they'll host the Cross County Thunderbirds for homecoming, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. Last week, the T-birds moved to 3-3 overall, and 2-0 in conference, with a 26-14 home win over McCrory.