By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
The streak is still alive.
More importantly for Pulaski County’s football team, so too are the Maroons.
Johnny Hines and crew came into last night’s second round playoff game in Class 5A with a perfect, 8-0 mark all time at home in the post season.
To make it a perfect nine for nine at PC Field in the post season, the Maroons had to get past an old foe in Whitley County on Friday night, and the Maroons were able to do just that.
Riley Hall threw for a touchdown and scored another TD on a 14-yard scamper in the fourth quarter, while the PC defense forced Whitley County into three, fourth quarter turnovers.
As a result, it was Pulaski County advancing to its third regional championship game in the past four years with a convincing, 28-13 win last night over the Colonels.
And, the Maroons did it in comeback fashion.
Whitley County took the opening drive of the game and drove 55 yards on only six plays, and when quarterback Austin Ysidro scored on a 13-yard run with 9:42 remaining in the opening quarter of play, the Colonels were off and running with a 6-0 lead over Pulaski County.
From that point on however, this one was basically all Maroons.
“We didn’t start well on the first drive, and we made some mistakes defensively,” stated a very happy coach Hines, after his club moved to 9-3 on the season with the win.
“We were out of whack a little bit early, but our coaches got us straightened out, and then we made a mistake late that let their quarterback have a big run, but other than a handful of plays, our defense was really spectacular tonight,” Hines added.
And, the PC offense wasn’t too shabby either.
After falling behind the Colonels by that 6-0 margin, quarterback Riley Hall got his club into the lead for good late in the first stanza.
The PC freshman hooked up with Tyler Goins on a 28-yard scoring toss with 1:38 left in the first quarter, giving the Maroons a 7-6 lead.
Late in the first half, PC extended that advantage to 14-6 at the intermission, thanks to a 1-yard scoring run by Aaron Smith.
While Whitley County might have came in as a slight favorite in this game, the Maroons had the Colonels in a hole at the end of the first half — a hole Whitley County could never dig itself out of.
“It was good to see Jacob Gross come up big playing the nose tackle spot tonight,” stated coach Hines.
“Patrick Stephens played well, and our two defensive ends — Keenan Hall and Will Mobley — are just outstanding,” pointed out the Maroon head coach. “They’re not very big, but they’re extremely quick. And, Austin Cornett was a big key to this game for us. When we scrimmaged Whitley County way back in the preseason, he was injured and didn’t play in that game. He made a huge difference for us and played a whale of a football game tonight.”
Pulaski’s defense — as it has done for much of the season — really came up big in the fourth quarter with the game still up for grabs against the Colonels.
The Colonels partially blocked Jacob Denney’s punt on the first play of the fourth quarter from his own goal line, setting Whitley County up in business with a first and ten from the Pulaski County 24-yard line.
No problem for the Maroons ‘D’.
With the Colonels having a first down and ten from the PC 14-yard line, the Maroons forced the first turnover of the contest when Zack Mills fumbled at the nine yard line — a fumble recovered by PC.
Riley Hall then took things into his own hands.
The freshman QB broke loose on the drive for a 52-yard run, and later in the drive, the PC quarterback called his number again — this time a 14-yard run for a score — that extended the PC lead to 21-6 with 6:53 remaining in the game.
After the Colonels got a 53-yard TD run from backup quarterback Luke Woods, the Maroons put this one away, thanks to a 41-yard scamper for six from Goins, that gave PC its final margin of victory at 28-13.
“I was very happy to see a bunch of our students out at this game tonight,” stated Hines, in referring to his club’s perfect, 9-0 record all time at home in the playoffs.
“We had a good student section tonight, and we had a great crowd tonight in general,” Hines added. “They were loud and rowdy, and when they get behind us, we just play extremely well at this place.”
Thanks to the win last night over the Colonels, PC now advances to next week’s Class 5A, Region 4 championship game.
And, much like Whitley County, the Maroons will play an all too familiar opponent.
Thanks to a 41-24 win over Madison Southern last night, PC will travel to Harlan County next Friday night to face the Black Bears for the third consecutive season in the playoffs.
In 2010, the Maroons traveled to Harlan County as the defending regional champs and were upset by the Black Bears by a 35-21 margin.
Last season in the opening round of the post season, Pulaski County traveled to the mountains of eastern Kentucky yet again, and came up on the short end of a 20-0 score to the Black Bears.
All that aside, for the precious present, the Maroons are getting ready to play for a regional title for the third time in the past four seasons — a feat that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the head coach.
“We beat a very good Whitley County football team tonight, and I’m so proud of these kids and our coaching staff,” said Hines.
“Hey, maybe nobody thought we could get this far this season, but we’re here, and it’s because this team and our coaching staff have worked extremely hard to get us here,” Hines added. “We love it when people pick against us — please keep doing it. We’ll go to Harlan County next week to play another outstanding football team and see what we can do.”
KIckoff for next Friday’s Harlan County—Pulaski County contest is set for 7:30 p.m.
WC — 6 0 0 7 — 13
PC — 7 7 0 14 — 28
WC — Ysidro 13 run (Conv. run failed)
PC — Goins 28 pass from R. Hall (Burgett kick)
PC — Smith 1 run (Burgett kick)
PC — R. Hall 14 run (Burgett kick)
WC — Woods 53 run (Conlin kick)
PC — Goins 41 run (Burgett kick)
RUSHING — (WC) Ysidro 15-87 TD, Bryant 18-83, Woods 2-67 TD. (PC) Goins 14-114 TD, R. Hall 7-78 TD, Smith 8-56 TD.
PASSING — (WC) Ysidro 0-1, Woods 2-6 39 2 INT. (PC) R. Hall 15-22 164 TD.
RECEIVING — (WC) Mills 1-25, Lewis 1-14. (PC) Goins 8-63 TD, Helton 3-74, Smith 5-32.