Heading into the second half, the Patrick County Cougars held onto a slim 22-20 lead over Tunstall.
But the Cougars had a plan in mind.
Along with shutdown defense, the Cougars were able to score 24 points in the second half to grab the 46-27 win over Tunstall, spoiling the Trojans’ homecoming week.
“It’s huge. We have been prepping all week, and we’ve been talking about these guys,” Cougars head coach David Morrison said. “We’ve been watching film on them and as a coaching staff, we said, ‘You know what? We are going to Tunstall, and this team is so much better than what their scores represented so far.”
The Cougars took possession on their own 39-yard line to begin the second half. Patrick County chipped away at the Tunstall defense, using the run game to their advantage. At first and 10 on the Trojans’ 11-yard line, Cougars junior quarterback Demontez Hill ran for the touchdown on the QB keeper with seven minutes remaining in the third. After the two-point conversion, the Cougars led 30-20.
Following a short squib kick from the Cougars, the Trojans would set up shop on their own 40-yard line. The opportunity didn’t go to waste, as sophomore running back Ryan Jones barreled his way through multiple Cougars for the eight-yard rushing touchdown, cutting Patrick County’s lead to 30-27.
Patrick responded on its next possession, working its way down to the Tunstall 17-yard line, inside redzone territory. On third and goal, at the Tunstall 11-yard line, the Trojans were hit with a pass interference penalty which moved the ball up to the 5-yard line for the Cougars, who ran the ball down to the 1-yard line. From there, Hill would take the situation into his own hands once more. Hill snuck in on the QB keeper to open a 38-27 lead.
Hill ended his night with 45 rushing yards and 49 passing.
After the Trojans went three and out with seven minutes remaining in the game, Patrick County only needed a few plays to capitalize. At second and 7 on Tunstall’s 46-yard line, senior Ben Hylton found a gap up the middle of Tunstall’s defense, taking off and outrunning several Trojans for the score, upping Patrick County’s lead to 46-27 after the two-point conversion.
Hylton led the Cougars with 98 rushing yards as Tycarious Yellock had 37.
“We have a couple of really good backs, back there. Tycarius [Yellock] is awesome and Ben [Hylton] does a great job for us,” Morrison said. “You always got to respect Demontez [Hill] at quarterback. You also got Peyton Cambron who is a 250-pound hammer. We like to move the ball around and spread the ball around and be unselfish with it. As soon as the line [Cougars offensive line] started moving, coming together and grinding a little bit, it really opened things up.”
Both Tunstall and Patrick County exchanged “one and done” scoring plays in the first quarter. Following Hylton’s touchdown that made it an 8-7 game for the Cougars with 1:24 left, the Cougars made the decision to kick it short for the Trojans in order to throw them off.
But their plan backfired as senior Damani Hairston scooped the ball and returned the kick from the Tunstall 35-yard line for a touchdown, giving Tunstall a temporary 13-8 lead with 1:07 left.
Soon after the Cougars set up on their own 48-yard line after Tunstall’s score, Yellock juked multiple Trojans and took off for a 52-yard rushing touchdown to one-up Tunstall at 14-13.
Tunstall won’t have to travel far next week, as it heads into Danville to take on the GW Eagles. Patrick County will also hit the road, as it faces Bassett. Both games are at 7 p.m. and are Piedmont District matchups.