Cougars hold off Patriots

Stephanie King

Friday night saw Southwestern Randolph welcome the Providence Grove Patriots in the Cougars’ den for a non-conference football battled. The Cougars were nursing a two-game losing skid ahead of Friday’s game with the Patriots, while Providence Grove was in at 1-2 after a loss to Union Pines last week.

The first half of this one would be a tale of defense and penalties. Providence Grove received the ball to start the game. After a pair of first downs from Xavier Andrews, the Patriots would be forced to punt on fourth down. Brighton Long would block the PG pass that forced the fourth down. Southwestern Randolph started their first drive with the ball on their own 10-yard line. The Cougars would be tackled for a loss, but Brayden Jones picked up 9 yards on a QB keeper to make up the loss. Tyler Hoover converted on third and three to pick up a first down. Southwestern Randolph would be stopped by the PG defense and forced to punt.

The Patriots could not get anywhere on their next possession as they were once again force to punt on fourth down. Just before the end of the quarter, the Cougars picked up a holding call that put them twenty yards from a first down. After one quarter of play this one was still tied at 0.

Both teams continued to have difficulty getting their offenses going during the second quarter. Southwestern Randolph punted the ball away to start the quarter, but the Patriots could not convert on the turnover and were forced to punt moments later. Providence Grove’s defense did an excellent job of containing the Cougars’ running game in the first half and once again forced the Cougars into a fourth down punting situation. On their first play of the next drive, Providence Grove would fumble the ball and Southwestern Randolph’s Jose Tinoco would recover. The Cougars would pick up back to back false start calls and soon found themselves punting on fourth and eighteen. The second quarter would end with the score still 0-0.

Southwestern Randolph found a spark during halftime as they opened the third quarter with a touchdown scoring drive. Hoover picked up three first downs during the drive and scored the first touchdown of the night for the Cougars at the 8:17 mark. Brycen Walker’s extra point attempt was good, giving the Cougars a 7-0 lead. Malik Sutton had a big return on the ensuing kickoff, but the Patriots could not capitalize on the good field position. They would end up punting on fourth down moments later. The Cougars picked up another penalty on their next drive, throw them out of their offensive rhythm. Southwestern Randolph would be forced to punt. Providence Grove would punt on their next drive as well. Hoover would pick up 5 yards for a first down just before the end of the third quarter. After three complete, the Cougars led 7-0.

A misstep by Hoover would cause the Cougars to turn the ball over on fourth down just minutes in the fourth quarter. Providence Grove continued to struggle offensively as a high snap over the quarterback’s head lead to a Cougar fumble recovery by Brighton Long. Southwestern Randolph took over with the ball on the Patriots 36-yard line and wasted no time putting the ball in the end zone. Quarterback Brayden Jones found Paxton Staker for the touchdown at the 9:28 mark of the quarter. Walker made the extra point attempt to put the Cougars in front 14-0.

The Cougars turned their attention to defense as they made three straight plays to force the Patriots to punt the ball away. Southwestern Randolph picked up a first down on a run by Hoover and then after Jones took a sack, Dylan Underwood broke loose put the Cougars in the red zone. They would be unable to score a touchdown, but Walker did make a 29-yard field goal on fourth down to give the Cougars a 17-0 lead. Southwestern Randolph’s defense went back to work and held the Patriots off. The Cougars snapped their two-game losing skid with a 17-0 win.

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