In a word, that sums up the first two weeks of the season for Campbell County High School’s football team.
The most recent disappointment for the Cougars (0-2 overall) was a 21-14 loss Friday night to visiting White County, a team they beat by 30 points last year while setting school single-game records for interceptions (4) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (2).
This year looked to be more of the same until Campbell County blew a 14-point lead in the final three quarters.
“Defensively, we gave up two big plays that hurt us,” said Cougars coach Dewayne Wells.
“It was a game that could’ve went either way. (White County is) better than they were last year. Their quarterback is better. They’re better up front. They’ve got two or three good skill kids that are pretty darn good.”
Early on, things went Campbell County’s way. The Cougars scored 14 points before the Spartans could run a play. Keenan Evans, a lineman playing fullback for the first time this season, scored both of Campbell County’s touchdowns, the second one after the Cougars recovered a fumble at the White County 40-yard line on a kickoff. Both scoring drives were eight plays long and chewed up over eight minutes on the game clock.
Wesley Cook made both extra point kicks.
Spartans quarterback Connor Sparkman got the visitors on the scoreboard with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Devon Davidson to open the second quarter. Jordan Armstrong’s PAT kick cut Campbell County’s lead to 14-7.
White County tied the game 14-14 on Kayne Tollison’s 66-yard touchdown run with 5:33 left.
The Cougars had a chance to pull back in front just before halftime but dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line.
Following a defensive stalemate for much of the second half, overtime looked to be a distinct possibility until Armstrong scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 7:07 remaining in the fourth quarter to put the Spartans on top. He also made the PAT kick for what turned out to be the final margin.
Campbell County finished the game with well over 200 yards of total offense but could not find the end zone after the first quarter. Much of the Cougars’ second-half woes had to do with field position. They began one drive on their own 5-yard line and another on their own 9.
Cook rushed for 62 yards on half a dozen carries, Joe Peake had 47 on 11 totes, and Evans had 21 yards on five attempts. Junior quarterback Tuffy Shoupe accounted for over 100 yards of offense for the Cougars. He hit 6 of 18 passes for 66 yards with 2 interceptions. He also rushed for 41 yards on 16 carries.
Brandon Long led Campbell County receivers with 31 yards on 2 catches. Anthony Branam caught 2 passes for 15 yards, while Isaac Phillips had one catch for 17 yards.
Defensively, Evans led the Cougars with 10 total tackles, half a dozen for minus yardage. He also forced 2 fumbles and recovered one.
Long was in on eight tackles, recovered 2 fumbles and deflected a pass. Linebacker Phoenix Asher was in on 6 stops.
“We’ve got our hands full this week,” said Wells, referring to Friday’s big District 3 game at rival Anderson County.
“Their quarterback (senior Tanner Williams) is very accurate, has a real nice touch and is able to get the ball in there. We can’t let them hone in to what we’re trying to do (defensively) as far as (pass) coverages.”
Williams — who set state single season records for completions, attempts and passing yardage last year — recently spent several days in the hospital with some sort of viral infection. Despite only one day of practice last week, he shredded Morristown East for 456 yards and 5 touchdowns last week during a 55-29 victory.
Anderson County is ranked No. 4 in the state Associated Press poll this week for 5A football.