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Cougar offense couldn’t convert five times on 4th down vs. Pioneers

By Robby O'Daniel

The David Crockett defense would bend but not break, forcing five Cougar turnovers on downs, as the Pioneers defeated Campbell County, 28-7, at L. Hope Dossett Stadium last Friday night.

“Kind of a tale of two halves for us as a team, the first half, we were moving the football, just couldn’t capitalize on some long drives,” CCHS head coach Justin Price said. “Defensively playing lights out, the improvement we made on defense from week one to week two was impressive. We were tackling better, got a turnover. The second half, they had a good drive to score, and we knew those plays would happen because they have some big play potential. And for whatever reason, we just never did respond to that.”

It had to shock many at halftime to see the score as 0-0, especially after Campbell County survived a 37-35 slugfest at David Crockett in 2017, but thanks to a strong offensive second half, the Pioneers ended up just a touchdown score away from matching their offensive output from last year’s matchup with Campbell County. The Cougars never got nearly that close.

Five times, the Cougars (1-1) went for it on fourth down and came up empty.

“Obviously looking back, probably should have kicked field goals, but any time it’s fourth-and-2, fourth-and-3, we’re confident in our offense,” Price said. “We’ve worked that a lot in practice, and a couple we converted in the open field, but when we got down in the red zone, we just didn’t make it happen.

“So that’s something, we’ve kinda been like that for eight years. Unless it’s fourth-and-6 or 7, we’re probably going to go for it, and that’s nothing to do with Riley Wallace. He’s a great kicker, but we felt confident in it. And our defense was playing well, so we knew we’d have them pinned back. So obviously, maybe looking back, getting some points on the board would have been big for our confidence because the second half, we just didn’t have many opportunities to score.”

The first drive of the game ended on a fourth-and-12 play at the David Crockett 27. Senior quarterback Landon Addington ran it 8 yards to the 19.

“I thought we missed a lot of opportunities that we should have made,” Addington said.

Following a David Crockett punt, the Cougars faced a fourth-and-4 at the David Crockett 28. Again, the Cougars went for it, and Addington’s pass was deflected, landing incomplete.

Preston Bowman ended David Crockett’s second offensive possession early by snatching an interception around midfield and returning it all the way to the David Crockett 16. It was the second-straight week Bowman had an interception on defense.

“I just saw the tight end release – and it’s just something we worked in practice – I saw him release, and I kinda just played it a little bit to try to bait the quarterback into throwing it,” Bowman said. “And as soon as I saw the ball release, I just came up and picked it off.”

But despite starting in the red zone, the Cougars didn’t score again.

“Preston’s a savvy football player,” Price said. “He knows. He’s played a lot, so he knows where he needs to get to. It was a big play. Again, offensively, we didn’t capitalize on it, and those are the plays in high school football, when you’ve got two good teams going at it, that’s the difference a lot of times is when you create a big play and you have an opportunity to maybe some points on the board, you need to do it, and we just couldn’t do that tonight.”

On fourth-and-3 at the David Crockett 8-yard line, Addington was sacked back at the 21 for the Cougars’ third turnover on downs in three drives.

“What they were doing was they were bringing more guys than we could block,” Addington said. “They were bringing six. We only had five people blocking. That’s a problem. We just have to get it out quick, and I didn’t get it out quick. We couldn’t get open.”

The Cougar defense forced a turnover on downs from David Crockett to respond. The Pioneers’ drive also ended with their quarterback getting sacked, back at the Campbell County 42-yard line.

On a third-and-4 play near midfield, Addington found Christian Shouse, the star of last week’s game who tied a school record in that contest for most yardage in a game (245 yards at Cherokee), and Shouse, like last week, broke tackles and got extra yardage, to the David Crockett 35.

The Cougars faced a fourth-and-3 at the David Crockett 15. The Cougars went for it again, and on the play, Drew Jordan was open on a slant pattern. But once again on a key fourth down, David Crockett batted Addington’s pass down, and the Cougars were turned away with no points, keeping it at no score to the halftime break.

“I thought we came out good defensively, the first half. We just didn’t execute on offense inside the red zone,” Bowman said.

Despite a touchback, David Crockett (2-0) would score on a long touchdown pass on its opening possession of the second half for the first points of the game.

Cahron Williams returned the ensuing kickoff to the Cougar 40-yard line to give Campbell County strong field position. But on a fourth-and-short play around the David Crockett 37-yard line, a Wiseman rush came up short. On their fifth possession of the game, the Cougars turned the ball over on downs for the fifth time, leaving it 7-0 David Crockett with 5:43 to go in the third quarter.

Despite all the turnovers on downs, the Cougars were still in it. A big screen pass from David Crockett took it from their 36 to the Cougar 36.

Before a third-and-11 at the Cougar 37 for David Crockett, the Cougar student section was chanting, “Money down! Money down! Money down!” There was no apparent third-down song played at all last Friday.

Crockett suffered an incomplete pass. And then before fourth down, it was a delay of game, setting up a fourth-and-16 punt that pinned Campbell County back at its own 5.

Winning that field position battle led to the first drive of the entire game where the Cougars weren’t able to move the ball. The Cougars went three-and-out, including a big deflection again on a third-and-10, and punted.

“We just have to execute better,” Addington said. “Our linemen have to work to get their hands down, but that’s mostly on me. That’s my fault. I have to be able to know when they’re coming, when they’re going to throw those hands up.”

But David Crockett returned the punt all the way to the Campbell County 2. The defense nearly held them, but on a third-and-goal from the Cougar 3, a fade to the end zone resulted in a touchdown. David Crockett led 14-0 with 1:04 left in the third.

After a Cougar punt, David Crockett faced a fourth-and-2 at the Cougar 34. But the Pioneers converted on a 13-yard pass play, en route to an 18-yard passing touchdown. David Crockett led 21-0.

The Cougars went three-and-out again after two deflected passes in a row, and David Crockett’s offense would come up big on another fourth down, with a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the Cougar 13. David Crockett led 28-0 with 5:41 to play.

“I feel like we just weren’t focused at times, and we couldn’t get the D-line’s hands down,” Bowman said. “They were batting balls down, just bad reads. We did what we could, but they just played really good defense.”

The Cougars avoided being shut out for the first time since the 2016 game against Oak Ridge when Addington found a wide-open Shouse for a 48-yard touchdown to make it 28-7 with 2:12 left.

“The batted balls were an issue tonight, and we’ll obviously watch the film, kinda see exactly what happened, but right now, No. 1, they had a tall defensive lineman, No. 67, and we knew that coming in,” Price said. “So we kinda worked on making sure our kids understood to get their hands down, but we’ll kinda see whether it’s the quarterback, the linemen or just a great play by that guy. But if it’s something we can fix, we’ll definitely get it fixed.”

The onside kick attempt by the Cougars was unsuccessful, and the game was soon over.

“It just came down to about four or five plays during the third quarter that I felt like the momentum swung so big,” Price said. “They made some big plays, and then we just didn’t create those moments and opportunities for ourselves until late in the game with Shouse.”

Addington went 18-of-29 passing for 139 yards and a touchdown, Price said. Shouse caught six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, followed by Drew Jordan (five catches, 32 yards), Dale Wiseman (two catches, 19 yars), Bowman (four catches, 14 yards) and Devlin Dukes (one catch, -5 yards). Addington ran it 12 times for 35 yards. Wiseman had 11 carries for 32 yards, and Jordan ran it two times for 5 yards.

Defensively, Alex Gross led the team in tackles for the second-straight week with 12 tackles against David Crockett. Gross had two sacks and a tackle for loss, according to CCHS assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Matt Price.

Jordan had eight tackles and one tackle for loss. Williams had eight tackles. Javan McCulley had five tackles and a forced fumble, and Jordan Tolliver provided five tackles, Matt Price said.

Eric Hopper had four tackles and a sack, while Daymon Seiber had four tackles and a tackle for loss. Shouse had three tackles, Matt Price said.

Next the Cougars travel to Oak Ridge (2-0). The Wildcats are ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll in Class 5A football.

“I think it starts with film study, and come in Monday just ready to work, being focused all out through the week in practice and just really coming ready to play next Friday,” Bowman said.

The Wildcats are coming off wins over Hardin Valley and Dobyns-Bennett.

“Monday, whether we were 2-0 or 0-2, we’re going into it – how can Campbell County be the best by Friday?” Price said. “Obviously Oak Ridge is a tough opponent. Last year, we had a shot to beat them. We’ll go down there, and our kids will believe that we can win and believe in each other. And that’s the key, keeping that belief and understanding that everything that’s happened tonight that didn’t go our way are things that we can fix, and that’s our job between now and next Friday, get it fixed.”