PALM HARBOR — The Countryside Cougars take pride in their regular-season winning streak. On Friday night it took Ryan Yates’ 1-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds left to extend it to 20 games as the Cougars edged Palm Harbor University 24-21.
“We just took the best team in the county to the edge right there,” Hurricanes coach Matt LePain said. “The kids are disappointed, but that tells me it means something to them.”
PHU received the opening kickoff and on the second play from scrimmage Billy Pavlock broke free for an 80-yard touchdown run. Logan Ruby added the point-after.
The Cougars tied it in the first quarter as quarterback Gray Crow found receiver Marrieo Taylor for a 22-yard score.
The Hurricanes later went for it on fourth and long at the Cougars’ 31-yard line. Shane Dixon wrestled Pavlock’s pass away from a Countryside defender for a touchdown.
Ryan Pandy’s 25-yard field goal closed the gap to 14-10 at the half.
In the second half, Crow was intercepted by Skylar Snow, and on the next play Pavlock broke four tackles on a 43-yard touchdown run for a 21-10 lead.
“At that point there I told our guys there is a lot of football left,” Countryside coach Jared Davis said. “The defense believed they could still win.”
Early in the fourth quarter the Hurricanes forced the Cougars to fumble inside the 5-yard line and intercepted Crow a second time.
But with five minutes to go, Taylor received a punt, got some blocks and went 80 yards for a touchdown to narrow the gap to 21-17.
Countryside got the ball back with under three minutes to go and Crow drove the Cougars 57 yards in 10 plays before Yates capped the drive.
“Our guys never quit and that shows character,” Davis said. “You have to play every minute, all 48 minutes.
Crow finished 28-of-46 with 254 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Taylor caught 10 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown.