By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
After enjoying a bye week on the final week of the regular season, the Pulaski County Maroons picked up Friday night in the opening round of the Class 5 A playoffs exactly where they left off two weeks ago at the conclusion of the regular season.
Coming off the school’s first-ever perfect, 10-0 regular season, visiting Whitley County eventually succumbed to the same fate as PC’s first 10 opponents of the 2013 season — the Colonels simply had no answer for the Maroons.
Quarterback Riley Hall threw 4 touchdown passes, while Aaron Smith scored 4 TD’s, George Gregory caught two of those Hall passes for scores, and Caleb Cox added a 69-yard touchdown run for another score.
When all was said and done, it was another PC beatdown as has been the norm for much of this season, as the Maroons rolled to 11-0 on the year with an impressive, 47-22 beatdown over a Whitley County squad that was no match for the undefeated Maroons.
“It’s exciting to watch these kids play when they turn it on — I think all the weapons showed tonight,” stated a very happy coach Hines after his club moved to 11-0 on the season with the victory.
“George Gregory had a big gain early that set up our first score, Caleb Cox had the long touchdown run, and we’ve been very fortunate this year that we’ve been able to spread the ball around to several of our guys and use all those weapons in our arsenal,” added the PC coach. “Jake Johnson made a couple of incredible catches, and it was good to see Jesse Whitaker in the mix offensively tonight by getting some reps at tight end. All those guys at our skill positions did a good job tonight, and our offensive line had another great game.”
Whitley County came into Friday’s contest as a huge underdog against PC, and the Maroons quickly jumped out in front of the Colonels, but to Jim Black’s club’s credit, the Colonels didn’t roll over and die.
Hall threw the first of his 4 touchdown passes of the night on Pulaski’s opening drive, hooking up with Gregory for a 22-yard scoring toss, giving the Maroons a quick, 7-0 lead thanks to Derek Burgett’s PAT.
Whitley County came right back and answered that score, thanks to a Zack Mills’ 3-yard plunge into the end zone.
The kick failed, helping PC maintain a 7-6 lead after one quarter of play.
In the second frame, Hines and crew blew this one wide open and essentially iced this one by scoring 26 unanswered points.
With 8:29 remaining in the opening half of play, Cox raced virtually untouched for a 69-yard TD run, extending the PC lead at that point to 14-6.
And, there would be much, much more to come from the Maroons.
Less than two minutes later, thanks to a Jacob Denney interception, Hall connected with Gregory once again for another scoring toss — this one a 3-yard pass that gave the Maroons a 20-6 cushion.
Later, Hall would hook up with Aaron Smith for a 22-yard scoring pass, giving PC a 27-6 lead with 3:57 left in the first half of play.
With only :43 left in the half, Smith scored on a 9-yard run, helping PC race into the locker room with a huge, 33-6 advantage over a Whitley County team that was lacking in both firepower and athleticism compared to the Maroons.
“It was good to see Austin Cornett back in the lineup tonight — he played very well and Will Mobley had a big game, and Jacob Denney had some big hits as well,” pointed out coach Hines in talking about the play of his defensive unit.
“It was good to see Jacob Denney with another interception, and if I’m not mistaken, that will be the career breaker, making him the all-time leader here in interceptions for a career,” added the Maroon head coach.
Early in the second half, Pulaski scored a couple of quick touchdowns to go up by a 47-6 margin, forcing the contest to go to a running clock due to the mercy rule.
And it was Aaron Smith doing the damage as his monstrous senior season continued.
Smith scored on a 32-yard romp into the end zone to make the score 40-6 with 9:40 left in the third period, and moments later, he hauled in a 45-yard pass from Hall giving the Maroons a 47-6 lead with 7:29 left in the third frame.
Whitley County scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth stanza against the PC reserves, scoring a safety and a touchdown on a pair of bad snaps that sailed into the end zone, while Jacob Paul also added a 4-yard run for another Colonel score.
For the game, Pulaski rolled up 392 yards of total offense while holding the Colonels to only 186 yards, which included just 22 yards through the air.
“The bye week actually gave us some time to get back and work on some fundamentals,” stated Hines. “I felt like our team got a little better over the past couple of weeks, and we had some really good practices this past week leading up to this game.”
“As coaches look at this, there’s still holes because there are still some things that we need to improve upon,” remarked the Pulaski County coach. “I believe we haven’t played our best football yet — I really believe that. I think our potential is still untapped in some areas and we want to continue to improve. We want to try to improve each week and get better. I mean it’s the playoffs. You win and you move on to next week — you lose and you go home. We’re enjoying this ride that we’re on and we certainly don’t want it to end any time soon.”
With the win, the 11-0 Maroons will return home this Friday for round two of the Class 5 A playoffs, as Pulaski County will welcome in the Perry County Central Commodores at PC Field.
Perry County Central — 6-5 on the season — advanced to this week’s game with the Maroons thanks to Friday’s 28-15 victory over North Laurel.
Kickoff for the game is set to get underway from PC Field at 7:30 p.m.
WC — 6 0 0 16 — 22
PC — 7 26 14 0 — 47
PC — Gregory 22 pass from Hall (Burgett kick)
WC — Mills 3 run (Conlin kick)
PC — Cox 69 run (Burgett kick)
PC — Gregory 3 pass from Hall (Kick failed)
PC — Smith 22 pass from Hall (Burgett kick)
PC — Smith 9 run (Kick failed)
PC — Smith 32 run (Burgett kick)
PC — Smith 45 pass from Hall (Burgett kick)
WC — Paul safety
WC — Paul 4 run (Conlin kick)
WC — Pfiefer fumble recovery in end zone (Conlin kick)
RUSHING — (WC) Singleton 21-74, Paul 6-28 TD, Mills 13-26. (PC) Cox 7-128 TD, Smith 6-58 2 TD, Hall 4-48.
PASSING — (WC) Woods 4-9 22 INT. (PC) Hall 9-15 165 4 TD’s.
RECEIVING — (WC) Johnson 1-10, Mills 1-7. (PC) Smith 2-67 2 TD, Johnson 3-42, Gregory 2-25 TD, Whitaker 1-32.