BUNN – It was a very emotional moment after the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars 31-14 loss to the Bunn Wildcats Friday night in the second round of the NCHSAA 2-AA state playoffs. Fans and players were tearing up as Cougars head coach Raymond Cobb gave his final post game speech as the Cougars head skipper as he told his team how much they meant to him.
Cobb is stepping down after 25 years in the business. He finishes his career with over 250 career wins and two state titles under his belt.
"I have been blessed to coach a lot of great players," Cobb said. "It has really been fun. I have made a lot of memories and have been very blessed to be a part of some really good teams."
Cobb will have plenty of time to reflect on his memories of the coaches he has worked with, the players he has coached and the opposing coaches he has coached against because he will officially retire after the first semester of school is completed.
"It has really been a great ride." Cobb said. "I couldn't be happier to have coached this group here now. They have worked so hard for me and my staff."
Coming into the game, Cobb had told his team that they were going to have to stop Bunn's running game. They had a problem stopping the Wildcats running back Tarik Cohen. He broke tackle after tackle and refused to come down. He scored twice and gained 175 yards on 24 carries.
After an onside kick attempt to start the game failed for the Cougars, the Wildcats started from their own 41-yard line. They put a six play drive together in just over two minutes. They capped the drive off when quarterback Dillon Autrey connected with Jonathan Alston on a 20-yard TD pass. Freeman Jones' extra point try was good and Bunn led 7-0.
Bunn forced the Cougars to punt on the ensuing possession. Bunn then started from their own 39-yard line with 5:26 left to play in the first quarter. This time they put an eight play drive together and capped it off with a 17-yard TD run by Cohen. The extra point try by Jones was good and the WIldcats led 14-0 with 2:41 left in the first.
The Cougars offense woke up on their second possession after being down two scores. Cobb went to what has worked for the them all year and that is milking the clock and controlling the football. SouthWest put a 13-play drive together that was capped off by a Gerald Hinton 1-yard run. The two-point conversion failed and the Cougars trailed 14-6 with 9:24 left before halftime.
With 2:59 left before halftime, Cohen again scored on a 14-yard run to give the Wildcats a commanding 21-6 lead. The Wildcats answered again with just 2 second left before halftime. They called a time out facing a fourth and five from their own 30-yard line. Bunn selected to go for the field goal and sent Jones out to try a 42-yard attempt, which split the uprights and Bunn led 24-6 at halftime.
Bunn scored again in the fourth quarter with 8:54 left when Karilee McLean scored on a 5-yard run.
The Cougars got the ball back with just over 2 minutes remaining in the game. This was the last offensive series that Cobb was going to call as a head coach for the Cougars. Facing a third and 10 with just 1:44 left in the game, quarterback Quay Wooten connected with Anthony Coley who was wide open near the Cougars sideline. Coley turned and sprinted 69-yards for the TD. Wooten connected with Fabrion Bandy for the two-point conversion.
"Bunn played a heck of a game on both sides of the ball," Cobb said. "They beat us in all three phases of the game. They made the big plays. They hit their receiver for big plays and their back was fantastic. He is an awesome football player."
Hinton finished his career with a positive game. He rushed for 122 yards on 19 carries. He finished the season with 216 carries and rushed for 1,629 yards and scored 23 TDs.
After the game, Cobb and his team huddled in the end zone and talked about the loss. Cobb told all of his players that he was glad they had showed class all year and told each of them that he loved them.
"I want to thank each of you for your commitment this year," Cobb said. "I am so very proud of all of you for your hard work and effort you have given me and the coaching staff all year."
After Cobb was done talking to his team, he let each individual coach talk to the players, and they echoed most of what Cobb had already said.
Cobb said for the last two seasons, his team has worked extra hard for him and has never given up. The talent level dropped off a year ago and we got banged four weeks in a row and we turned it around and made it positive. It is because the kids continued to work hard everyday without giving up.
"We accomplished about what we were capable of accomplishing this year,' Cobb said. "I am just proud of these guys for not giving up."