MONTICELLO -- The Pulaski County Maroons (1-1) were in dire straights in the first half Friday, trailing Wayne County 14-0 with both the offense and defense struggling to get going.
But that's when senior Grant Oakes came to the rescue.
Oakes scored on touchdown catches of 69 and 51 yards and hauled in a two-point conversion pass to finally get the Maroons untracked and give them a 15-14 lead they never relinquished on their way to a hard-fought 35-27 victory over the Cardinals (1-1).
Oakes finished with 135 yards in the game.
The second half belonged to junior running back Tristan Cox, quarterback Drew Polston and the Maroons defense, which came up with huge plays when it needed them down the stretch.
Cox, in his first action of the season, was a workhorse out of the backfield, bulldozing his way over and through the Cardinals defense for 128 yards on the night.
Polston meanwhile added a pair of touchdown runs of four and nine yards in the second half.
And after struggling mightily in the first quarter, the Pulaski defense rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter after Wayne County had pulled to within 22-20 and was driving for what looked like the go-ahead touchdown.
But senior Chase Parmelee stripped the ball from Wayne County's Braedon Sloan at the five yard line and sophomore Ryun Dye recovered the ball to end the threat.
The Maroons rode the back of Cox to take extend their lead to 29-20 with a 7-play drive that culminated with a 9-yard Polston touchdown run with just more than three minutes to go.
On the drive, Cox carried the ball six times for 57 yards, including a huge fourth down run in which he was caught in the backfield, but carried four Wayne County defenders to pick up five yards and a first down to keep the drive alive.
The Cardinals refused to give up and wasted no time in posting a touchdown of their own.
On the very next play Wayne quarterback Brody Weaver found Tito Ruiz behind the Pulaski defense for a 54-yard touchdown to get the Cardinals back to within 29-27.
But, just as quickly, the Maroons answered when senior Jake Sloan scooped up an onside kick and raced untouched for a 50-yard TD to push the lead back to 35-27 with 2:34 remaining.
Wayne County had one more opportunity to tie the game but the Pulaski defense once again came through in the clutch.
Sloan raced in to bat away a pass at the goal line and the Cardinals final play, junior Jacob Shepherd picked off a fourth-down pass to seal the victory for the Maroons.
Pulaski will be back in action next Friday when they travel to Corbin to take on the Redhounds.