Rivals

Southwestern High School senior Rowan Pennington makes an interception as Pulaski County junior Tristan Cox plays behind him in the Warriors’ 17-7 playoff win on Friday.

For the second time in three weeks, Southwestern traveled across town to face Pulaski County.

For the second time in three weeks, it was the Southwestern Warriors escaping PC Field with an upset victory over the Pulaski County Maroons.

"Proud of my guys for another gutsy and gritty performance tonight," stated Southwestern football coach Jason Foley. "To go into a tough road environment for the second time in three weeks in a playoff atmosphere and come out with the win isn’t an easy thing to do. We beat a very physical and good football team."

"We had some kids make big plays in crucial moments," Foley stated. "It was a collective group effort. Our defense was stellar all night and limited big plays which is what we had hoped to do."

"We have great momentum right now and are peaking at the right time," Foley concluded. "Looking forward to prepare for a district championship next week."

That regular-season win over the Maroons was big for Southwestern, but last night’s 17-7 victory was monumental, as the No. 4 seed Warriors upset No. 1 Pulaski County to move on in the KHSAA Class 5A State Playoffs. With the ten-point triumph, Jason Foley and the Warriors will advance in postseason play to face Whitley County.

Just like their first meeting of the season, Southwestern would break a 7-7 tie late in the game to earn the victory. This time, the Warriors would win the game in regulation.

The fourth quarter turned out to be the Brainard and Brainard show for the Warriors, as brothers Max Brainard and Giddeon Brainard combined to score all ten of their team's second-half points. Thanks to a long touchdown run from Giddeon Brainard, along with a field goal and extra point from Max Brainard, Southwestern was able to clinch the playoff win.

In part to a big punt return from Kenny Robinson, Southwestern set up shop at the Pulaski County four-yard line early in the fourth period. The Maroon defense forced the Warriors into a field goal after stuffing them on the first three plays of the drive. Max Brainard would drill the 26-yard field goal, giving the Warriors a slim, 10-7 lead with 10:35 to go into the ballgame.

Southwestern’s offense struggled to get past the Maroons’ defense for much of the night, but that all changed with 4:25 left to play. On second down, fullback Giddeon Brainard found a hole and ran past the defense for a career-long 83-yard touchdown run. With Max Brainard’s extra point, the Warriors grabbed a 17-7 advantage with four-and-a-half minutes to go.

The Warrior defense, just as they had done all game long, answered the bell one more time, coming up with an interception on the Maroons’ next drive. Southwestern would run out the clock to earn their first playoff win over Pulaski County since 2006.

After a scoreless opening quarter of play, the Warriors took advantage of a Pulaski County fumble and went ahead on a 15-yard touchdown run from Wright. With Max Brainard’s kick, Southwestern grabbed a 7-0 lead with 10:31 left until halftime.

To begin the second half, Tristan Cox marched the Maroons right down the field and finished off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run. The extra point from Jaxon McAlpin was good, tying the game up at 7-7 with 5:43 to go in the third period of action.

That run from Cox turned out to be Pulaski County’s only touchdown of the evening. Without quarterback Drew Polston, wide receiver Jake Sloan, and wideout Grant Oakes, the Pulaski County offense couldn’t seem to get things going when they needed to. The Maroons would finish with 133 passing yards and 93 rushing yards on the evening, but four turnovers (two interceptions and two fumbles) would seal their fate.

Cox, who scored the Maroons’ only touchdown of the evening, was their leading rusher with 70 yards on 18 carries. Kaleb Adams completed ten passes for 133 yards and two interceptions.

Southwestern finished with 157 rushing yards and ten passing yards on the evening. Giddeon Brainard, in part to that game-clinching touchdown run, was the Warriors’ leading rusher with 87 yards on two carries. Wright chimed in with 38 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts.

Pulaski County, with the loss, will end its 2019 campaign with an overall mark of 7-4. After a season-opening loss to Lexington Catholic, the Maroons went on a seven-game winning streak before losing their final three contests of the year.

Southwestern, who is above .500 for the first time all year at 6-5, will now turn their attention and focus towards Whitley County. The Whitley County Colonels defeated the North Laurel Jaguars by a score of 21-20 last night in Williamsburg.

Due to the No. 2 Colonels being the higher remaining seed, Southwestern will have to travel to Whitley County next Friday night for the second round. The Warriors lost to Whitley County, 14-0, in their regular-season meeting on October 11th.

Southwestern won't mind another road trip, as five of their six wins this year have come away from the Reservation. The Warriors and the Colonels will kick off at 7:30 p.m. next Friday, November 15th.

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