Cougars Claw Past Blues

Cougars Claw Past Blues

PM QUARTERBACK Ty Ruley runs with the ball as teammates block for him. Ruley rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and he completed 3-of-6 passes for 29 yards. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

Cougars Claw Past Blues

PM’S JOHN Snider carries the ball while Covington’s Zachary Ratliff tries to stop him. Snider ran for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

Cougars Claw Past Blues

FIGHTING BLUE running back Ethan Moore moves with the ball while Covington defenders await. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

Cougars Claw Past Blues

DURING HALFTIME, Grayson Shields and Cooper Braddy stand together after being crowned as homecoming queen and king. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

Covington Spoils Parry McCluer’s Homecoming

The Parry McCluer High School football team fell 47-14 Friday night in Buena Vista against Pioneer District rival Covington on homecoming night.

The Blues’ offense struggled all night, and the defense simply couldn’t contain Covington’s running back and quarterback duo of Shaun Smith and Simon Gibson. Smith rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, and quarterback Simon Gibson threw for four TDs and rushed for one.

“We couldn’t tackle Smith and shot ourselves in the foot on offense,” said PM head coach Mark Wheeler.

Early in the game, the Fighting Blues (1-6 overall, 1-1 district) had several balls that didn’t bounce their way and costly penalties that went against them.

On the first possession of the game, Covington (3-4, 1-1) was backed up on their own 7-yard line and the Blues’ defense looked poised to make an early stop. However, Smith took a handoff up the middle, fumbled it several yards forward, scooped it back up and broke off a 55-yard run.

Gibson then rifled a pass over the middle for Skyler Barnett that went for a 27-yard TD. That made the score 6-0 after Brendon Conley blocked the PAT.

Wheeler said he knew that containing both Gibson and Smith would be huge challenge. “We didn’t tackle and were picked apart in the secondary,” he said.

PM moved the ball well on their opening possession as Keaton Coleman ran the ball for a pair of first downs. That early momentum quickly died when the team ran a quick pitch left to Ethan Moore, who was met in the backfield and fumbled the football.

Moore appeared to be down before the ball came loose, but the referee ruled it a fumble and gave Covington the ball in good field positon.

After the turnover, Smith helped the Cougars power the ball down to the PM 1-yard line and Gibson punched it in on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. The Cougars converted the two-point conversion to make the score 14-0 as the first quarter concluded.

The Blues punted the ball after Jacob Wootten dropped a pass from Ty Ruley that would have gone for a first down, and Covington took over with good field position again. The Blues’ defense held the Cougars to third and long, but a costly pass interference penalty went against the Blues that gave Covington another first down.

The PM defense stepped up and made a big stop, but the offense fumbled as soon as they got it back on their own 29-yard line. Gibson made them pay for the mistake and slung a 29-yard TD pass to Jacob Crawford. The PAT attempt was blocked by Conley again.

The Blues punted again on their next possession, but more significantly, Keaton Coleman went down with an injury after taking a big hit. He appeared to go through concussion protocol and did not return to the game. Wheeler said his status for next week is undetermined. Coleman finished with 36 yards on seven carries before going down.

Just before half, Gibson increased the Blues’ deficit by throwing a 4-yard TD pass to Barnett. After a two-point conversion failed, the score was 26-0 at halftime.

Despite PM’s subpar first-half performance, the Blues’ faithful came out in big numbers to celebrate homecoming weekend. Grayson Shields was crowned as homecoming queen, and Cooper Braddy was crowned as king.

PM took the ball to start the second half, but John Snider coughed it up on the first play. Covington recovered at the 21-yard line, and Gibson capitalized again with a 14-yard TD pass to Jacob Crawford.

Ty Ruley was a bright spot for the Blues’ offense in the second half. He threw several nice passes and used his size and agility to make big gains running the ball. Ruley finally got the Blues on the scoreboard in the third quarter with a 5-yard run up the middle that made the score 34-7 after a Wootten PAT.

“Ty had some good runs, hopefully he can help us more with his legs for the last part of the season,” Wheeler said. Ruley finished the game with 29 passing yards, completing 3-of-6 passes. He added another 85 rushing yards on 14 carries.

After the PM TD, the Cougars immediately responded with one of their own as Smith made defenders miss and broke off a 45-yard TD run up the middle.

The injury bug bit PM again as captain and defensive leader Holder Kerr went down after he got his knee caught under a Covington player’s body. He had to be carried off the field by PM coaching staff and did not return. Wheeler commented that his status is also undetermined.

Snider, a freshman who has spent time playing with both the varsity and junior varsity teams this year, saw substantial playing time after Coleman went down. He provided an offensive spark and was another bright spot for PM in the second half.

“John is going to be a special player,” Wheeler said. “He has really helped our offense and makes our future look extremely bright.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Snider capped off a solid Blues’ drive with a 2-yard TD run that made the score 40-14 after a Wootten PAT. Snider finished the game with 32 yards and a TD on nine carries.

Smith capped the night’s scoring and showed why he is one of the best running backs in Virginia when he made a a 70-yard TD bolt up the middle that made the final score 47-14, following a PAT by Chadwick Tacy.

With the playoffs on the horizon, the Blues will be back in action at home for a pivotal district game against Bath County (1-6, 1-1) this Friday at 7 p.m. Before the game, PM’s last home game of the regular season, the Blues will honor their 11 seniors.

Bath picked up its first victory of the season last Friday, 45-0 against Craig County. PM beat Craig 40-0 two weeks ago.

“We will watch the film, make corrections, and get back to work on Monday,” Wheeler said. “Bath will be another tough challenge for us. It should be a good game.”

CHS 14 12 14 7 47

PM 0 0 7 7 14

First Quarter

CHS – Bennett 27 pass from Gibson (kick blocked)

CHS – Gibson 1 run (Barnett pass from Gibson)

Second Quarter CHS – Crawford 30 pass from Gibson (kick blocked)

CHS – Barnett 4 pass from Gibson (run failed)

Third Quarter CHS – Crawford 14 pass from Gibson (Smith run)

PM – Ruley 5 run (Wootten kick)

CHS – Smith 45 run (run failed)

Fourth Quarter PM – Snider 2 run (Wootten kick)

CHS – Smith 70 run (Tasey kick)

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