WILLIAMSBURG -- The Pulaski County Maroons (5-1) got a big defensive stand in the final minutes Friday night to hold off Whitley County 21-18 in a five-hour, weather-delayed marathon in their first district matchup of the season.
Whitley County drove down to the Pulaski 15-yard line with less than three minutes to play, looking for the go ahead touchdown.
But that's when the defense stepped up big time for the Maroons.
After stopping Whitley running back Zach Saylor for a three yard gain on first down, the Pulaski pass rush forced quarterback Seth Mills to have to scramble for his life on the next two plays which resulted in a pair of under thrown incomplete passes.
Then on fourth down, Colonel kicker Jayden Watson hooked his field goal attempt wide left with two minutes remaining and the Maroons were able to run out the clock to pick up the very important district road win.
"I'm really proud of the way we played defensively there at the end of the ball game when the game was on the line, to shut down some things and take away some things they were doing well earlier in the game," Pulaski coach John Hines said following the win. "This was a huge game. Being 1-0 in the district at this point is huge because it's really hard to win the district championship starting out 0-1. So it was a big deal for us and we're excited to win over a good team like Whitley County and we're ready to move on."
The start of the game was delayed two hours by lighting and it took both teams a little while to get things going offensively.
The Colonels got a 27-yard Watson field goal on their first possession for the only points of the first quarter.
Pulaski County finally got the offense untracked as quarterback Drew Polston led the Maroons on an 83-yard, 15-play drive -- interupted by another hour-long weather delay -- that culminated with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Tristan Cox. Jackson McAlpin's PAT put PC up 7-3 early in the second quarter.
The Maroons extended the lead to 14-3 with 1:36 left in the half.
A big 52-yard Polston keeper around right end got the Maroons down to the 11-yard line.
Two plays later, junior Caleb Adams took a handoff from Polston on an end around and raced untouched into the end zone for the score.
Whitley County took advantage of a couple of Pulaski penalties on the ensuing drive to cut into the deficit once again.
A big pass interference call on the Pulaski defense inside the final 20 seconds got the Colonels down to the Maroons' 34-yard line.
Two plays later, Mills avoided three PC defenders in the backfield near the sideline, rolled back across the field and hit senior Caleb Irwin in the left corner of the end zone for a 34-yard TD to pull Whitley to within 14-10 at the half.
Pulaski opened the second half with an 11-play drive and pushed the lead back out to 21-10 when Cox bulled his way up the middle for a 6-yard TD.
It remained that way until early in the fourth quarter when Whitley County pulled to within 21-18 on a 10-yard Mills to Aaron Steeley touchdown pass and two point conversion.
"The weather had an effect, but they had to deal with it too. We've just got to put those kind of things away mentally and be able to play our game. I thought we were going to do that early on. We jumped out to a good lead and then we kind of let down. Whitley County is too good of a team to let down on and they did and were able to get back in the game," Hines said. "We made plays when we had too and overcame some penalties and things. I told the team after the game that I would much rather win a game in an ugly fashion than lose pretty. So we made enough plays in the game and that's what you've got to be proud of. It's growing experience."
The Maroons finished with 456 yards of total offense in the game.
Polston was 25-34 passing for 207 yards and led all rushers in the game with 99 yards on 13 carries.
Senior Jake Sloan had another big night, hauling down 12 passes for 113 yards.
Cox had nine carries for 43 yards and a touchdown and caught one pass for nine yards and a touchdown.
Abbott added 39 yards on six carries , Adams had three carries for 21 yards and two catches for 11 yards and a touchdown.
Whitley County finished with 310 yards of total offense, 196 yards through the air and 114 yards on the ground.
Mills led the Colonels going 16-of-27 for 196 yards and two touchdowns passing and 13 carries for 40 yards on the ground.
Lawson led the Colonels in rushing with 59 yards on nine rushes and Saylor added 15 yards on three carries,
Hines said he like the fight his team showed when faced with adversity on the road in a tough environment with a lot on the line,
"What I really like about this team is it is resilient. They won't give up, they keep battling, they really believe in each other, they are confident. And the coaches did a good job in the midst of some difficulties, penalties and things. I'm really proud of everyone and excited about how it turned out.
The Maroons return for only their second home game next week when South Laurel comes to PC Field for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff in another district battle.