Top ranked Russell holds off 2nd ranked Cougars 35-26

Calhoun Academy suffered its first loss of the season Friday in their final regular season game at number one ranked Russell Christian in Meridian 35-26.

Russell scored the first two touchdowns of the game – the first at 9:35 mark of the first quarter and the second at the 6:20 mark to take a 14-0 lead.

With 1:37 left in the first quarter, Kyle Carter scored on a 10 yard run to cut the lead to 14-6. The extra point missed.

The Cougars recovered their onside kick at the 44, but couldn't move the ball in the ensuing possession and were forced to punt.

Russell scored with 4:29 left in the half to take a 21-6 lead.

On the Cougars' last possession of the half, an offsides penalty on Russell moved Calhoun to the 5-yard line, where with 14 seconds left, Hunter Harmon scored on a quarterback sneak. Kyle Carter scored on the 2-point conversion to pull the Cougars within 21-14.

Russell scored the first points of the third quarter with 5:05 remaining to go up 28-14.

A 12-yard touchdown run by Danny Joe Norman pulled the Cougars within a single score at 28-20 with 1:51 left in the third.

With Russell threatening to score, Norman intercepted a pass at the 1-yard line with 8:10 to play in the game.

The Cougar offense was eventually forced to punt and Russell drove back down again and scored with 4:03 to play to go up 35-20.

Norman returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards, then Harmon completed a 40 yard pass to Kyle Carter, getting the ball to the 3-yard line.

Harmon scored the touchdown with 2:13 to play to close the gap to 35-26, but the 2-point conversion failed and the Cougars were unable to get the ball back.

Calhoun will open the playoffs next Friday at home.