By Carl Holcomb
It was a gut wrenching fight among unbeaten felines as the Mountain Lions (3-0) clawed and scraped past the Cougars (2-1) for
a 14-13 victory to remain the top cat in the Potomac Valley Conference last Friday in Parsons during the West Virginia
MetroNews Game of the Week.
Tucker County denied a game opening drive touchdown by the Cougars with an interception in the end zone and a sack sealed
“We knew what we had coming in. East Hardy is a tough football team. Devon does a great job down there and their records
proven that the last three or four years. Unbelievable. They played hard, we played hard. Our kids responded. Leading at half
helped us even though it was only one point. We believed we belonged into it. We came out and played. They came out and
punched us in the mouth. We had a hard time stopping that run and our quarterback made a great play throwing to Trenton,”
Tucker County coach A.J. Rapp stated.
The key tonight was our defense. They did a heck of a job and had a couple picks. That’s been our motto all season, just bend,
don’t break and protect that goal line. We did a good job of that today. They got a lot of yards in between the field, but our motto
is don’t bend, don’t break. It’s a great win for us. We play this game 100 times and hopefully we win 20 to 30 of them. Tonight
was our night and it could have ended either way. We had kids step up. We haven’t won three games in the last three years and
we are 3-0 now.”
East Hardy’s Tyler Tarallo took the game’s opening kickoff back to the 38-yard line, then quarterback Mason Miller rushed three
yards prior to a holding call.
Another short gain by Miller was followed by a connection with Dawson Price on a diving reception for a first down on a 36-yard
play into Mountain Lions territory.
Tarallo was jammed on a second carry with a hard hitting tackle by Tucker County’s William McCallister causing a flip to the turf.
Miller converted the third down on a ten yard scamper to the 21-yard line and reached there ed zone on the next attempt.
A shuttle pass to Price created eight yards for the Cougars.
Tarallo moved the chains at the seven yard line.
East Hardy’s Ashton Haslacker caught a screen pass and was dragged down at the line of scrimmage by Jakob Barrett.
The Cougars tried a little razzle dazzle with Haslacker tossing the ball near the sidelines towards Price in the end zone, but
Tucker County’s Trenton Wilfong denied the score with an interception timing his jump in front.
The Mountain Lions took over possession at their own 20-yard line with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter.
A pride of Cougars took down Tucker County’s Jared Reall for no gain, then there was an offensive penalty.
Tucker County’s Maddox Anderson received a pass from Ethan Rosenau and created 14 yards with a tackle by East Hardy’s Eli
Blaike Adams was stopped for no gain by East Hardy’s James Shipe forcing a fourth down and one.
Reall picked up the first down on a six yard carry with Shipe and Brandon Jones in tow.
Rosenau sandwiched two incompletions around a pass to McCallister, who was slammed down by Brandon Parker for a loss
and the Mountain Lions punted away at 3:17.
East Hardy took over on the 42-yard line and Miller made two carries totaling 17 yards reaching the Mountain Lions’ 41-yard
Tarallo notched six yard prior to an offensive penalty, then Haslacker caught a pass and dodged defenders to reach the 40-yard
Miller created a first down on a ten yard keeper arriving at the 30-yard line.
Tarallo slipped down in the muddy conditions gaining only one yard to close the first stanza.
Miller gardened a first down in the red zone to commence the second period on a 14-yard run, then plowed ahead for another
14 yards reaching the one yard line where Wilfong prevented a touchdown.
Miller punched the ball into the end zone on the ensuing play and Price added the extra point to give the Cougars a 7-nil
advantage at the 11:11 mark.
“As I speak, I don’t want to take anything away from Tucker County. They beat our butts tonight. They had a game plan and
executed it very well. They were prepared for what we like to do. They made us play left-handed in some situations, but I do feel
like we shot ourselves in the foot way too many times. A turnover in the red zone. In the first half, we were double or triple their
stats, but you look at the scoreboard and we were down. I think we did sone things well, certainly, but not well enough to get a
win tonight. We weren’t deserving of a win tonight. Hats off to Tucker County. We ended on the 20 when we got that sack there.
We saw the prevent coverage and had numbers and get off at the point of attack in space a little bit. Our guys didn’t get out of
bounds as quickly on that two-minute drill and we used more clock than I anticipated. We did give ourselves a chance in the
end, but obviously Tucker County came through with the big play,” East Hardy coach Devon Orndorff commented.
“I’m not completely upset with our effort. I thought we gave some good effort and adjusted to some things Tucker County did
well, but it wasn’t enough. It’s a different outcome if we hold on to the ball and don’t force the ball. If we don’t turn the ball over
and ball security, I feel like we score a couple more times in the first half in the red zone. We shot ourselves in the foot. I’m not
saying that I think we are the better team by any means. They are right now and they earned that right to say that. I think all our
goals are in front of us. I think we can compete to be a Top-5 team.\, but we have to shore these things up. A Top-5 team
doesn’t turn the ball over like this. Hopefully people around the state give Tucker County more credit they deserve. A.J. does a
good job with the offense. I remember a 2015 team that dropped one in the regular season and still ended up on the Island. We
have to work like East Hardy works. We’ve got to stop thinking we are one of the best teams in the state and start working like
we are the underdog. That’s where this team has been built. We didn’t have a great week of practice and this is the result. Our
motto is “respect all, fear none” – I feel like we didn’t accomplish that tonight. We didn’t take them lightly by any means, but the
boys didn’t respect them as much as they should have. Hopefully they learned a lesson from that. As a coaching staff, we knew
they were explosive. We know they were going to score some points on us. Hats off to that defense. We thought we had an
explosive offense, but we didn’t make enough plays. To keep us to two touchdowns is a great feat for that Mountain Lions
The kickoff bounced into the end zone and the Mountain Lions got started at their own 20-yard line.
McCallister made a catch for nine yards and was tackled by Haslacker.
Adams was stopped for no gain as Shipe and yanked him backwards with the assistance of Jacob Gainer.
East Hardy’s Justin Parker recorded a sack to force a punt and the Cougars started the next series at their own 43-yard line with
9:13 remaining in the half.
Tarallo rushed 13 yards entering Tucker County territory and was sent flying on an ankle tackle by Daniel Bennett.
Miller took the ball on the ground thrice and converted a third down at the 32-yard line.
Tarallo notched two more yards, but had the bar jarred loose on the next carry by Tucker County’s Maddox Anderson with Owen
Knotts making the fumble recovery in the red zone at the 19-yard line.
Reall was stopped at the line of scrimmage by East Hardy’s Gainer and Miles Kidwell.
An errant pass sailed high, then the next Rosenau throw was on target as Anderson garnered an 81-yard touchdown at the 5:26
mark and the Mountain Lions took the lead 8-7 on a two-point conversion catch by Bennett.
A penalty caused Tucker County to make a second kickoff, then Haslacker struggled to scoop the ball up and managed to get to
the 29-yard line.
Miller was sacked on second down by Gavin Mullenax, then Price slipped on a passing route leading to a Cougars punt.
Tucker County muffed the punt return and the ball was recovered by East Hardy, but possession was given back to the
Mountain Lions on the 23-yard line.
Reall caught a pass for ten yards with a stop by Tarallo and Brandon Parker.
McCallister notched nine yards on the following reception and was forced out by Price.
Adams was tackled for a loss by Mathias and Damien Dellinger.
After a timeout, McCallister caught a screen pass and was slammed down by Miller for no gain leading to a punt at 1:29.
East Hardy started at the 26-yard line and Price made a leaping catch along the line of scrimmage, but was hit for a loss by
Wilfong and Mullenax.
Brandon Jones caught a pass for 36 yards to reach the Mountain Lions 42-yard line.
Barrett deflected a pass, then Miller rushed for seven yards with 29 seconds left in the half.
A bad snap and fumble was recovered by Miller at the 43-yard line.
As time expired, Miller launched the ball and it was intercepted by Tucker County’s Blaike Adams to close the first half with the
Mountain Lions up 8-7.
Tucker County started the second half on the 35-yard line where Rosenau faked a handoff and passed to Adams for 21 yards
and a first down in Cougars territory.
On the ensuing reception, Adams was lifted up and slammed by Price after collecting a first down on a 14-yard advancement at
the 30-yard line.
McCallister rushed for four yards and was stopped by Shipe and Justin Parker.
Rosenau earned a first down on a keeper into the red zone at the 19-yard line with Miller making the tackle.
Anderson caught a pass for nine yards, then a touchdown catch was called back on a false start.
East Hardy’s Jacob Gainer garnered a sack, then the next pass was incomplete.
Haslacker notched an interception s the Cougars took over at the seven yard line with 8:35 remaining in the third quarter.
Miller plowed through the defense for 13 yards and added another six yards on the next keeper.
Dellinger was forced out of bounds, but a holding call backed up the Cougars.
Dellinger plowed ahead 16 yards for a first down at the 31-yard line.
East Hardy kept pounding on the ground in this series burning the remaining seven minutes off the clock on 13 carries resulting
in a red zone situation.
Dellinger rushed three times as the Cougars reached the 44-yard line, then Miller hammered down a dozen yards on three
carries including a fourth down conversion.
Tarallo added two yards, then Miller crushed through for seven yards and eight more yards for a first down.
Miller and and Dellinger had two more carries apiece to close down the third quarter at the 14-yard line.
On the second play of the fourth period, East Hardy took a 13-8 lead as Miller rushed ten yards to pay dirt and was sacked on
the conversion attempt by Reall at 11:16.
Tucker County’s Trenton Wilfong made a 27-yard catch to reach the 47-yard line, then the next throw by Rosenau went awry.
Haslacker recorded an interception and returned the ball deep into the red zone, but a penalty brought the Cougars possession
back to the 38-yard line at 10:20.
Dellinger rushed for three yards before being tackled for a loss by Reall.
East Hardy was forced to punt after a pass sailed too high.
The Mountain Lions gained a first down on a 17-yard run by McCallister reaching the 38-yard line.
Reall was tackled for no gain by Shipe, then Gainer sacked Rosenau.
Wilfong made a catch 19 yards and a first down in Cougars territory with a stop by Haslacker with seven minutes and change
After a short gain, Reall added four yards on a catch and Adams collected a five yard pass for a first down at the 34-yard line.
McCallister added two more yards for the Mountain Lions.
Wilfong caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Rosenau to put Tucker County ahead 14-13 with 4:15 left in the game, but the
conversion throw was intercepted by Jones.
The Cougars had good field position at the 48-yard line, but a holding call backed up the possession.
Miller dodged some tackles for four yards, then a chop block was issued during a passing play to Price negating the
advancement with a setback to the 32-yard line.
Haslacker hauled in a reception for 11 yards, but the Cougars faced third down and long.
Adams snatched an interception for Tucker County with 2:22 to go and made a return to the East Hardy 35-yard line.
The Cougars utilized timeouts along with tackles for loss by Gainer to force a punt by Tucker County at midfield with just under
two minutes left.
East Hardy began the possession at the 40-yard line and Price quickly caught a pass for eight yards.
Miller was chased towards the sidelines and threw the ball to an empty spot when being hit.
Haslacker gained a first down on a seven yard catch to the Tucker County 45-yard line with a minute and change to go.
Price caught a pass for no gain, then Haslacker caught a pass for 16 yards to reach the 29-yard line and a spike was made by
Miller to stop the clock with 31 seconds left.
A throw to Price covered nine yards and burned 18 seconds off the clock.
Tucker County’s Hayden Smith sacked Miller on fourth down with eight seconds remaining to seal the Mountain Lions 14-13 win,
then a kneel down finalized the game.
Tucker County players waved goodbye to the Cougars before shaking hands. East Hardy holds a 12-7 overall series record
against the Mountain Lions.