Maroons shake off rust to advance

LES NICHOLSON PHOTO

Pulaski County High school sophomore Cade Sullivan runs with the ball in the Maroons' win over North Laurel in the opening round of the Class 5A Playoffs on Friday.

SOMERSET - After a three-week layoff, the Pulaski County Maroons (8-1) picked up where they left off, rolling to their eighth consecutive win Friday, dominating visiting North Laurel 33-12 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs at PC field.

Sophomore Barek Williams scored three touchdowns, and senior Tristan Cox added two TDs while the Maroons' defense was stellar all night. The PC defense held the Jaguars (3-6) to only 41 total yards on 22 plays and only two first downs in the first half.

The win sets up a 2nd-round rematch with cross-town rival Southwestern next week at PC Field.

Pulaski coach John Hines said he was pleased with his team coming off the long layoff, especially the defense.

"I think we played really well defensively, especially in the front seven. We did a really good jog of taking away their opportunities to run the ball. Christian Slavey, Aiden Wesley and Ryan Dye really picked it up this week. And you add to that Tristan Cox, Layton Abbott, Jericho Dixon and Zach Huff, those guys up front did a good job shutting down the run," Hines said.

It took both offenses a little while to get going as the two teams' defenses pitched a shutout in the first quarter.

After a Cade Sullivan interception on the first play of the second quarter, the PC offense finally got untracked.

The Maroons methodically marched downfield on an 8-play scoring drive that culminated with a 2-yard Cox touchdown to give Pulaski a 6-0 lead.

Two plays into North's next possession, senior Zach Huff recovered a Grant Woods fumble to give the Maroons good field position once again.

But the momentum was short lived as North defensive back Gavin Hurst picked up the first of his two interceptions on the night when he picked off a Brysen Dugger pass and raced 65-yards to the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game at 6-6 midway through the quarter.

The Maroons wasted no time in answering as Dugger led PC on a 10-play, 46-yard scoring drive that Cox once again finished off with a touchdown run, this time from one-yard out, to put Pulaski on top 13-6 after the Logan Corson PAT with 2:41 remaining in the half.

After the PC defense held the Jaguars to a three-and out, the Maroons offense struck quickly.

Williams took a hand off from Dugger on a reverse on the very next play and raced 48-yards for his second touchdown of the night to give the Maroons a 20-6 cushion at the half.

Though it wasn't always pretty offensively, Hines said he liked the way that unit made the plays they needed when they needed them.

"Brysen did a good job. Barek had some great plays again. He's so explosive when he gets his hands on the ball he's a threat to take it all the way every time. And Donovan Abbott also played well and ran the ball well and Tristan did a good job running the ball as well," Hines said.

It remained that way until late in the third quarter when the Maroons added to their lead, capitalizing on another North Laurel turnover after Layton Abbott recovered a Tucker Warren fumble.

A 47-yard Dugger pass to Antonio Palmer got the Maroons down to the Jaguar 12-yard line. Two plays later, Dugger hit Williams for his second touchdown of the night from 12-yards out to extend the lead to 27-6 following Corson's PAT with only 1:20 remaining in the quarter.

Pulaski put the game away with another Williams touchdown pass, this time from 8-yard out to make it 33-6.

North got one final score on a 16-yard Warren to Brodey Brinks touchdown pass inside the final five minutes to round out the scoring at 33-12.

Overall, Hines said he liked the way his team played after the layoff.

"Our execution was very sloppy, but that's to be expected after being out as long as we were out. But the thing that was great was the great effort and great intensity. The guys were really fired up to be back out. We'll take that."

The Maroons got a touchdown in the final seconds to down Southwestern 15-12 in the first game between the two.

Round two between the Maroons and Warriors kicks off at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at PC field.

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