Durant will face Sumner in the next round of playoffs.
The playoffs began on Friday, November 10 as the Durant Cougars traveled to Palm Harbor to take on the Hurricanes. Both teams entered the playoffs with an 8-2 record and here’s some team numbers entering the playoffs.
Averaged 33.7 Points Scored
Allowed 15.9 Points Per Game
145 Passing Yards Per Game
164.7 Rushing Yards Per Game
309.7 Total Yards Per Game
62.4 Tackles Per Game
2.7 Sacks Per Game
Palm Harbor Hurricanes:
Averaged 27.8 Points Scored
Allowed 12.3 Points Per Game
65.6 Passing Yards Per Game
182.6 Rushing Yards Per Game
248.2 Total Yards Per Game
45.7 Tackles Per Game
2.1 Sacks Per Game
The game started with Durant getting the possession first. The Cougars didn’t waste time settling into the playoff atmosphere as Michael Ryan hit Damari Styles for a 35 yard completion on the very first drive of the game. The drive did result in a 4th down and the Cougars faked the 4th down attempt, and the quarterback, Michael Ryan, instead punted it inside Hurricanes territory with 9:20 left in the first quarter. The Hurricanes started the drive inside their own 5 yard line but quickly got out of it as Will Seibert threw a small pass to Mykehl Boebert, which resulted in a huge play with a ton of yards after catch piled on top of it. Later in the drive, Seibert attempted three runs in a row, resulting in a 4th and 3 on the Cougars side of the field. Seibert threw an incomplete pass, resulting in a turnover on downs.
The Cougars started the second drive with a big run by Emmanuel Lee, bringing them past midfield. The very next play was a huge one as Michael Ryan threw a 47 yard touchdown to Treon Williams. Durant missed the two point conversion and had a 6-0 lead with 3:20 left in the first quarter.
A Cougars squib kick gave the Hurricanes solid field possession, taking over at the 35 yard line. The Hurricanes ended the first quarter with five rushing attempts in a row, slowly moving down the field. The second quarter started off with the Hurricanes facing a 3rd and 6 and Andrew Eussen ended up converting. Jerome Parham then had a huge tackle, which forced the Hurricanes to punt it.
Durant opened this drive with a couple of curl routes and then a big play from Michael Ryan to Jayden Cornelius put them to midfield. They ended up attempting more deep shots but came up short and ended up punting with 5:42 left in the first half.
The Hurricanes continued to try and set up the run game and it just wasn’t working as they had to punt it back to Durant with 2:39 left in the half. Durant started this drive at their own 40 yard line and got an immediate first down by a nice run from Emmanuel Lee. Michael Ryan then hit Jaylin Torres for a nice gain on a curl route and followed up with a timeout with 2:04 left in the half. The Cougars score on the very next play, as Ryan connected with Emmanuel Lee on a wheel route for the score. Durant once again missed the 2 point conversion, leading 12-0 with 1:56 left in half.
The Hurricanes had a nice kick return, starting their drive midfield. Multiple runs by Willm Seibert made it third and manageable and then he hit Alex Schmid for an impressive catch. Palm Harbor’s offensive drive once again resulted in nothing as Durant got a huge sack on 3rd down, forcing another 4th down for the Hurricanes. The Cougars forced a turnover on downs and headed to halftime with a 12-0 lead.
The second half started with the Hurricanes getting the ball at their own 30 yard line. They started the drive with three carries in a row to the fullback Brady Messick. After that, a bad snap by the center sent the ball over Seibert’s head by about 10 yards, but Siebert recovered it and made something out of nothing, somehow turning that play into positive yardage. The Hurricanes kept trying to establish the run on this drive and it got them nowhere as they then faced a 4th and 5 at this point in the game. Durant had multiple defenders trapping Seibert for a group sack, forcing a turnover on downs, taking over with 7:30 left in the third.
Emmanuel Lee, Jaylin Torres, and Damari Styles all gained positive yardage three plays in a row to move the Cougars into Hurricane territory. They then started running and it got them nowhere, forcing a 4th down. Durant faked the punt and converted on a trick play, but it was brought back due to a block in the path. Even though they got backed up even more on 4th down, Durant once again faked the punt, converting once again on a different variation of the trick play they had just ran before as Quentin Pope got a huge gain. The momentum stayed with the Cougars as Michael Ryan threw a nice end zone lob to Chris Lankford for a Cougars touchdown, now up 19-0 with 2:03 left in the third quarter.
Durant attempted an onside kick, but the Hurricanes recovered and started the drive at midfield. The Hurricanes had a nice run on first down, but the very next play, Hunter Smith got a disrupting tackle for loss for the Cougars, forcing a 3rd and 9 for the Hurricanes. A dump off pass to Alex Malyszko resulted in a big gain for the Hurricanes on 3rd and long, putting them in Cougars territory. That ended the 3rd quarter with Durant up 19-0.
The Hurricanes slowly started moving down the field and ultimately got all the way down to the Cougars 4 yard line. They faced a 4th and goal and the Cougars stuffed the run, forcing another turnover on downs, this time with 8:19 left in the game.
The Cougars started the drive with back to back runs from Michael Ryan and Emmanuel Lee, but then hit a nice play to Damari Styles for a first down and a roughing the passer call on the Hurricanes tacked on 15 more yards. The next play was the play of the game as Michael Ryan threw it to Jayden Cornelius and he came down with it on a one handed catch (his right hand was held by the Hurricanes corner but it was a no call), but the one handed catch wasn’t all for Cornelius on that drive, he caught it, then juked out the safety in front of him and scored for a big Cougars touchdown. At this point, they are now up 26-0 with 5:23 left in the game.
The Hurricanes once again failed to get anything going and Durant took over after another turnover on downs, this time with 4:23 left in the game. Durant started chewing the clock, forcing Palm Harbor to use their timeouts and it worked as the Cougars go 3 and out and punt it to the Hurricanes who now have zero timeouts left in the game.
With the running game not working for the Hurricanes throughout the entire game, they tried to start attacking downfield and it backfired quickly as the Cougars got a pick 6 led by Quientin Pope, extending the Cougars lead to 33-0 with 3:24 left in the game.
The Hurricanes got a couple first of downs on the final drive of the game due to running, but then threw an interception on the final play to Jayden Cornelius to end the game, as the Cougars traveled all the way to Palm Harbor to shut out the Hurricanes. The Cougars now will head to Sumner this weekend to face off against the Stingrays. I talked to Cougars Head Coach Claybo Varnum after the game to discuss how the game went and how he’s feeling heading to Sumner.
“We knew we could play, both sides of the ball showed up tonight and we’re super proud of that,” said Varnum. “We talked to some friends at Steinbrenner who had some tips for us and I’m just so proud of how psychical our team was tonight. Our goal was to get plenty of stops and keep Palm Harbor off the field tonight and we accomplished that.”
Durant will face Sumner in the next round. Varnum said his team is ready. “They’re an excellent team and they are coached really well by Coach Alonso,” he said. “We got them earlier in the year (28-27 Durant win back on 9/29) and we’re just hoping lightning strikes twice.”