Coming into last night’s crosstown clash at PC Field, the Pulaski County Maroons were heavily favored to come away with a victory over the Southwestern Warriors.
The Maroons were riding a huge wave of momentum, rattling off seven straight wins after a season-opening loss and wrapping up the top seed for District 8.
Southwestern, meanwhile, came into the rivalry matchup with a 3-5 record after taking down South Laurel to earn the fourth and final spot for the playoffs following back-to-back district losses at home.
None of that mattered whatsoever last night, as first-year head coach Jason Foley led his Warrior ball club to a 15-7 overtime victory over Johnny Hines and the Maroons.
"This was a huge win for our guys and our program," Southwestern football coach Jason Foley stated. "Games like this is why we coach, play, and put all the hard work in from offseason to now. The magnitude of this rivalry game is special. It doesn’t get any better. As a team, I want us to build off this and get better and better. We have been coming on as of late. We will enjoy this one for a couple days and get Back to work on Monday.
"I am so happy of our players grit and determination," Foley added. "We have had some adversity to overcome this year and I’m proud of the way we’ve stayed the course and kept working to get it right. Our defense executed our game plan as good as I could have asked for tonight. Offensively, we made some big plays when we needed to. It was a collective group effort. My coaching staff did a great job in getting our kids ready. It was an overall team effort in us beating a very good team."
Both teams tallied a touchdown each in the opening quarter of play, but neither Pulaski County or Southwestern would score for the remainder of regulation. The Warriors would get the job done in the overtime session, allowing them to escape PC Field with an upset victory over the Maroons.
The Warriors got the ball first in overtime, and they were more than successful on their turn. After being held out of the end zone on three straight plays, Tanner Wright ran around the edge for a one-yard touchdown run. Following a penalty on the Maroons, Southwestern elected to go for a two-point try after getting the ball on the one-yard line. A two-point run from Giddeon Brainard was successful, giving the Warriors a 15-7 lead over Pulaski County.
Pulaski County’s first three tries on their overtime turn were not successful, setting themselves up with a fourth and goal from the three-yard line. Kaleb Adams threw a pass in the corner of the end zone to Grant Oakes, but it would be broken up, ending the ballgame.
The Warriors racked up 238 yards of offense in the win, finishing with 137 rushing yards and 101 passing yards. Pulaski County had 91 rushing yards and 120 passing yards for 211 yards of offense.
Warrior quarterback Blake Burton went 8-of-16 through the air for 101 yards with one touchdown and a lone interception. Wright led the Warriors in rushing with 88 yards and a score on 14 carries.
Drew Polston, who would have to leave the game and never return with a shoulder injury that occurred just prior to halftime, was the Maroons’ lone bright in the contest. Before leaving the game with the injury, he went 6-of-9 for 72 passing yards, while adding four rushes for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Southwestern marched right down the field on their opening drive to take a 7-0 lead over the Maroons with 5:32 remaining in the first quarter. On 3rd and 20, Burton found Xavier Streeter, who leaped over the defenders and moved his way through the Maroon defense for a 32-yard touchdown.
With 2:13 left in the first period, Pulaski County answered back with a touchdown of their own to tie the ballgame up a 7-7. The Maroons tallied their opening score of the ballgame on a five-yard touchdown run from Polston.
The Maroons threatened to take the lead with less than two minutes to go in the first period after getting inside the ten-yard line, but the Southwestern held them in check. At the intermission, both teams went into the locker room at 7-7.
Just like Pulaski County, Southwestern threatened to score twice in the third quarter, but a missed field goal and a goal-line stop by the Maroon defense would keep the score tied up. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Warriors and the Maroons were knotted up at seven apiece.
Despite having cracks at it, neither team would find the end zone over the course of the fourth period, sending the game into overtime with the score, 7-7.
"We had our chances to win the game, but you've got to give a lot of credit to Southwestern," stated Pulaski County Coach Johnny Hines. "They outplayed us."
With Southwestern’s eight-point victory over the Maroons, the overall series is now just separated by just one game. Pulaski County has 16 wins in the series, while the Warriors have 15.
Last night’s game was the first of two guaranteed meetings that Pulaski County and Southwestern will have this season. After playing in their final regular-season games of the year, the Warriors and the Maroons will square off again in the opening round of the state playoffs on Friday, November 8th at PC Field.
Both local ball clubs will welcome Class 6A teams to Somerset next week for their respective regular-season finales, as Pulaski County (7-2) will host Tates Creek and Southwestern (4-5) will play Madison Central. Both games are scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Childers on Twitter — @MChilders_22