ROCKBRIDGE CO.- In what can only be described as an odd and bewildering game, the Alleghany Cougars took on the Rockbridge County Wildcats on their own turf Friday night, Sept. 8. The sun was high in the sky, beating down on enthusiastic fans, students, and parents alike as the crowd eagerly awaited kickoff.
Finally, the time had come. Kickoff. Cougar fans shouted in delight as our boys in white dominated the field play after exhilarating play.
Early in the game, the Alleghany Cougars ran in two touchdowns; one by J’yon Smith and the other by Purcel Turner, though both were called back. In the end, however, Turner was able to run in the first Cougar touchdown of the game. The extra point kick by Mason Hale brought Alleghany up to an early 7-0 lead.
About three minutes later, Alleghany was in control of the ball. Des Jordan tossed the ball to Hunter Knighton who ran in the second Cougar touchdown of the game. Mason Hale stepped up to kick the extra point, bringing the score up to 14-0.
Wildcats ball, but it would be short-lived. Hayden Knighton, doing an excellent job covering the Wildcats, was able to intercept the ball and run it in for a 60-yard touchdown. The extra point by Hale was good, giving the Cougars an impressive lead of 21-0.
Now later into the second half, quarterback Des Jordan handed off the ball to Neeko Jeter who scrambled 10 yards for another Alleghany Cougars touchdown. Hale once again steps up to kick the extra point, getting the Cougars ahead 28-0.
Hale then kicked off for the Cougars and, what initially looked like a touchback, turned into the Wildcats going for the ball. With the Cougars putting on pressure, the Wildcats then downed the ball inside the 1-yard-line. Though the Cougars sought to capitalize on it and garner a safety out of it, the Wildcats fought back, inching their way out of the endzone.
Though a safety was not the eventual outcome, the Alleghany Cougars were given excellent field position once they regained possession of the ball. Des Jordan would pass the ball for 19 yards to Ha. Knighton who completed the catch and gave the Cougars another touchdown. The extra point by Hale fell just short, leaving the Cougars ahead 34-0 with 7:01 remaining in the first half.
Shortly after, Jordan scrambled for another Alleghany Cougars touchdown! The extra point kick by Hale was good, and the Cougars led 41-0.
Unfortunately, the stadium announcer came over the loudspeaker right after Hale made his extra point kick, announcing that lightning had been spotted in the area. As such, the entire stadium was asked to evacuate immediately.
The Virginian Review waited outside with eager fans, curious to see whether the not the game would continue. After about half an hour of wait time, we were allowed back in the stadium in hopes the ball game would be concluded.
The Wildcats received the ball to restart the game. They would not get far, however. Caleb Walden got in a tackle for a loss of yards against the Rockbridge County Wildcats, stopping them short in their tracks. The remainder of the first half would be scoreless.
Now in the third quarter, Alleghany ball, Hunter Knighton would run in a 38-yard touchdown with the help of Purcel Turner who did some serious blocking to assist Knighton in getting to the endzone. The extra point kick by Hale was good, giving Alleghany an astonishing lead of 48-0 with 10:54 remaining in the third quarter.
Shortly after, Sarge Persinger had an impressive play in which he tripped up the Wildcats’ quarterback who fumbled the ball out of bounds just as Rocklynn Phillips rushed in to finish the tackle. Following the game, we caught up with Persinger to ask about the play. Persinger responded, “I don’t know what I was thinking, I just try to get ‘em every time.”
With 3:23 remaining on the clock in the third quarter, the Wildcats scored their first touchdown before attempting a 2-point conversion. The play went in favor of the Wildcats who were able to put two more points on the scoreboard. The score was 48-8, Cougars, late in the third quarter.
Alleghany then answered back strong, getting another touchdown shortly after receiving the ball on their next possession. Hunter Depriest broke away with a 50-yard touchdown run and the extra point kicked by Hale was good, leaving the Cougars with a 56-8 lead over the Wildcats.
The kickoff to the Wildcats would lead to one of the most talked-about plays of the game: Carter Nicely’s incredible hit! From the sidelines, Owen Burch called the hit “bone shattering.” We might have to agree.
Shortly following Nicely’s “bone shattering” hit, the crowd was once again evacuated due to lightning. This time, it was for good as the announcer was quick to say, “The game is over.”
The Virginian Review has since learned that the game was called for the Alleghany Cougars, continuing their undefeated streak of, now, 3-0.
Immediately following the game, we tracked down the Knighton brothers in the parking lot to ask about their thoughts on the game. “We played good, but we didn’t play our best,” Hu. Knighton said. “We definitely could have done a lot better.” Ha. Knighton agreed. “There was a lot of penalties that shouldn’t have been there; a lot of minimal mistakes, but we can just get better from there.”
Matthew “Moose” Clayton- 3 tackles and countless pressures
Caleb Walden- 2 tackles, with a third for loss of yards
Carter Nicely- 1 epic, “bone shattering” hit
Purcel Turner- 3 receptions for about 50 yards, 1 of which resulted in the first Alleghany touchdown of the game
Hunter Knighton- 2 rushes for 56 yards and 2 touchdowns
Hayden Knighton- 1 reception for 19 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception that led to a 60-yard touchdown.