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Cougars can’t get past Wilcox

CAMDEN &045; Tears fall again for the 2A AISA Southern Academy Cougars as they lost for the second time this season 22-14 to the (11-1) Wilcox Wildcats in the battle for Troy Friday night.

The Cougars came to Camden with a determined look and played solid for 24 minutes but made two costly mistakes at the beginning of the third quarter that cost them a return trip to the land of milk and honey.

For a coach who always seems to have plenty to say about his (8-4) Cougars, head coach Shaun Bonds was at a loss for words after the heart breaking loss. "I don’t know; maybe we over prepared for this one. We just didn’t make the plays when we needed to make them," Bonds said.

Although the Cougars have managed over 50 points per game throughout their last five they knew the Wildcats defense would be tougher than that. But they had no idea it was going to be this bad.

Cougars leading running back Erick Montz, who collected over 2,000 rushing yards in the regular season, had trouble finding any running room against the Wildcats and was held to 70 yards on 21 carries for the night. The Cougars offensive performance might have been their worst since week four of the regular season, which was the last time these two teams met, and collected 138-total yards against the Wildcats.

The Cougars held tough in the first quarter of play but had their share of problems with stopping Wildcats quarterback Phillip Merryman on the quarterback keeper.

Merryman put the Wildcats on the board early with an eight-yard touchdown run on the quarterback keeper to the weak side that seemed to catch the Cougars off balance. But the Cougars answered back with a Wallace Drury 59-yard touchdown pass to Jamie Cook with 4:52 in the first quarter to even things back up.

The two teams headed to the locker room tied at eight all in a game that was shaping up like expected. Bonds spoke to his defense at the half and emphasized more aggressive play.

They then watched as Merryman took the snap and rushed 17 yards on a fake punt for the first down.

With a fresh set of downs the Wildcats were able to continue their drive and pull ahead of the Cougars on a Nathan Bonds seven-yard touchdown run to make it a 14-8 ballgame. To add insult to injury the Cougars then made another crucial mistake on an incomplete backwards lateral that stayed in bounds long enough for the Wildcats to recover on the Southern Academy eight-yard line.

From there it was an easy toss pass over the middle to tight end Sam Mosley for the touchdown. Running back Michael Montee made good on the two-point-conversion and took a commanding 22-8 lead with 4:57 left in the third quarter.

While the Cougars made a valiant effort to come from behind, it was too little too late.

The Wildcats were able to keep their wheels turning with a running game that collected 247-total yards and gave the Cougars defense a constant fit throughout the second half.

The Cougars came back in the fourth quarter with a Wallace Drury 63-yard pass to Montz down the Southern sidelines to put the Cougars in scoring position at the Wildcats one-yard line. Montz found a hole up the middle for the one-yard touchdown, and the Cougars cut the lead to within eight with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter.

Bonds called for an onside kick that came to within inches of being a deciding factor in the game. The ball traveled 10 yards before Montz touched it. Southern fans rose to their feet in unison and gasped as the ball slipped through his fingertips and danced out-of-bounds giving the Wildcats possession with 2:49 left in the game.

Coach Bonds gathered his teary eyed players at mid-field once it was all over with and congratulated them on a great season. "You have nothing to be ashamed of. You have done more this season than anyone ever expected of you. And I know this one hurts, but the sun will come out again and we will be back," Bonds said to his team.