Even though school has only been in session for a couple of weeks, for the Pulaski County Maroon football team, it was time to go to study ‘Hall’.
That’s ‘Hall’, as in Pulaski County freshman quarterback Riley Hall.
The PC freshman made his varsity debut last night in the Ray Correll Bowl against Rowan County at Somerset’s Clark Field, and what a debut it was.
Hall completed 14 of 25 passes for 183 yards, led a Maroon offense that rolled up 456 yards on the night, and more important than all of that, the Maroons were guilty of zero turnovers for the contest.
And, the young QB had a lot of help in Friday night’s 41-26 season-opening victory over the Vikings.
Tyler Goins rushed for a game-high 164 yards on 21 carries while scoring five touchdowns along the way, Alec Wooldridge scored on a 74-yard scamper, and Caleb Cox hauled in four Hall passes for a game-high 96 yards while rumbling into the end zone for a 13-yard score, on a night when the young and inexperienced Maroons maybe grew up a little bit right in front of head coach Johnny Hines.
“We’re always pleased to win because that’s always our goal, but we made a ton of mistakes tonight,” stated a very happy Hines, after his club moved to 1-0 on the year with the win.
“What I’m proud of is that we played hard, we played physical, and we made the plays when we had to,” continued the PC coach. “The highlight of the game for us was the play of our offensive line and the running of Tyler Goins. Back in the spring, we were a little worried about our line, but they’ve really came along, and that was pretty evident with how well they performed as a group tonight.”
Indeed, it was Pulaski’s offensive line that played really well, helping the Maroons roll up 273 yards on the ground, led by Goins with 164 yards.
However, early on it was the Vikings that struck paydirt almost from the outset.
Isaac Lee opened the game with a 71-yard kickoff return, setting up the Vikings with a first and ten at the PC 11-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage in the game, quarterback Justin Graham ran into the end zone for an 11-yard score, immediately putting PC down 7-0 with 11:37 remaining in the first quarter of play.
So, down by seven before he ever took his first varsity snap, how would Hall respond?
Just fine, thank you.
Pulaski County took the lead over Rowan County with a pair of scores in the second quarter.
Cox scored on a 13-yard run with 9:45 left in the first half, helping the Maroons knot things up at 7-7, thanks to the extra point by Derek Burgett.
Goins scored the first of his five TD’s on the night just over three minutes later on a 25-yard run, and with that, PC took a 13-7 lead into the intermission over Rowan County.
“To see how well our O-line — Isaiah Jasper, Jacob Gross, Chase Willoughby, Patrick Stephens, Tristan Tilley, and Mason Helton at tight end — how well all of those guys did blocking up front tonight was fun to watch,” pointed out Hines. “They really did a good job.”
“To see how well that group run-blocked tonight, and of course Goins is a tremendous runner — that was the highlight for us — the way we were able to run the football,” Hines said.
Pulaski rushed for just 82 yards in the opening half of play, but it was in the third quarter that saw the Maroons throw the hammer down, unleashing a potent rushing attack on a Rowan County team that simply had no answer for the Maroons rushing attack.
In fact, it started right from the outset of the third period of play.
Pulaski’s Alec Wooldridge took the first play from scrimmage in the second half and went virtually untouched — racing 74 yards, outrunning the entire Rowan County defense for his lone TD of the contest.
With that score, Pulaski County led the Vikings 20-7 with 11:39 remaining in the third frame, but there would be more to come from the Maroons — much, much more.
Goins scored on TD runs of 16, 45, and 37 yards respectively in the third period, as Hines and crew took complete control in this one, leading Rowan County 34-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
Goins capped his huge night by scoring his fifth TD of the contest on the game’s first play of the final stanza on a 1-yard plunge, giving PC a 41-13 lead with 11:57 left in the contest.
Rowan County tacked on two more scores late to make the final score somewhat respectable, but from the start of the second half on, this one was all PC.
“Riley (Hall) did a great job tonight of running our offense, and I don’t remember any glaring mistakes that he made,” stated coach Hines.
“He didn’t make any mistakes as far as throwing any picks or turning the ball over tonight, and for us that’s a huge key — no turnovers,” added the PC coach. “Defensively, I thought we were pretty good tonight. They got a score thanks to a breakdown in our kicking game right off the bat, but other than that, we really didn’t give them anything else. We had two other drives where we stopped them, but they got first downs on penalties and they were able to score. Overall though, I thought our defense played pretty well.”
After falling in the opening round of the playoffs last season to Harlan County, Hines indicated earlier this summer during training camp that he was ready for the season to get underway on the bus ride home last season from the mountains of eastern Kentucky.
It had been a long nine months indeed for coach Hines and PC, but for last night at least, the Maroons were back, and came back with avengance with Friday’s 15-point win over Rowan County.
“This felt really good tonight — there’s no denying that,” pointed out Hines.
“It’s always fun to come over here and play in the Ray Correll Bowl,” stated the Maroons coach. “It’s a great atmosphere, and it’s been a great bowl game for many years. We appreciate Mr. Correll, all of the sponsors, and coach Bob Tucker who puts this thing on, and all the work that they do. It’s fun to come over here to play in the Correll Bowl. A lot of people wouldn’t think I’d say that. They always say that I’m anti-Correll Bowl, but I never have been anti-Correll Bowl. I just wanted the home and home with Somerset forever.”
The 1-0 Maroons will try to move to 2-0 next week, with what figures to be a very stiff test on the road at Class 6 A Simon Kenton way up in northern Kentucky.
After defeating Danville last Friday evening 12-7 in the Death Valley Bowl at Lincoln County, Simon Kenton moved to 2-0 on the season last night with a 21-17 victory over Beechwood.
At the conclusion of last night’s game, Tyler Goins was named as the Offensive MVP for the game thanks to his 164 yards on the ground and five touchdowns, while Pulaski County’s Collin Hau-Blair was named as the game’s Defensive MVP.
RC — 7 0 6 13 — 26
PC — 0 13 21 7 — 41
RUSHING — (RC) Baker 8-86, Moore 11-67 TD, Graham 10-43 TD. (PC) Goins 21-164 5 TD’s, Wooldridge 3-79 TD, Cox 2-12 TD.
PASSING — (RC) Graham 11-17 101 TD INT. (PC) Hall 14-25 183.
RECEIVING —(RC) Kelsey 1-61 TD, Plank 2-16 TD. (PC) Cox 4-96, Hall 6-34, Helton 2-25.