By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
In a game billed as a showdown of two explosive offenses, only one showed up Friday night, and then for only a half.
Pulaski County (8-0) scored touchdowns on it’s first two possessions then withstood a late flurry by Madison Southern (6-1) to pick up a 21-18 win.
The game was won in the trenches where the Maroons dominated both the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage all night.
While the Pulaski defense slowed down Damien Harris and bottled up the Eagles offense for big stretches of the game, their offensive line gave quarterback Riley Hall plenty of time to throw, while opening up big holes for Maroons running backs all night long.
The Eagles’ performance, especially up front left Southern coach Jon Clark shaking his head.
“On offense, we missed way too many blocks tonight. I don’t know what to say. The scheme was there, the things we tried to do were there, we weren’t blocking guys,” Clark said. “They got a lot of back-side penetration which killed us tonight. The backside is effort. It was a lack of effort. It’s on me. I’m the O-line coach. In other games we’ve been able to get away with what we were doing on the backside and tonight they made us pay for it. Maybe we haven’t scheduled tough enough.”
Early on it looked like the expected offensive fireworks just might materialize as both teams put points on the board in the first quarter.
Pulaski took a 7-0 lead on its first possession, methodically marching downfield on a 10-play drive that ended with a 22-yard Riley Hall to Caleb Cox touchdown.
Southern answered on its next possession, driving down to the Pulaski 9-yard line before the drive stalled. Garrison Watts’ field goal made it 7-3.
PC once again drove the ball downfield in nine plays before Hall hit Jake Johnson for a touchdown to put the Maroons up 14-3.
Once again Southern answered back, as Damien Harris finally broke free for a 57-yard touchdown out of the Wolverine package to make it 14-10.
But from that point the Maroons’ defense clamped down on the Eagles’ offense, while the Pulaski offense put together another drive.
This one ended up like the first two, with a touchdown pass from Hall, once again to Johnson to give Pulaski a 21-10 lead at the half.
After allowing the Maroons to pretty much do what they wanted to on offense in the first half, the Eagles’ defense came out in the second half and made a statement, holding the high-powered offense scoreless in the second half.
Southern came up with a Casey Dionne interception that stopped a PC drive in the third quarter then had a huge stand on fourth down late in the third, stopping Hall a yard short of a first down to stop another Maroons drive.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Pulaski defense was just as good, getting several white shirts on Harris on every carry, making him earn every yard he picked up, while keeping Southern off the scoreboard as well until late in the fourth quarter.
With the Eagles still trailing 21-10 and the Maroons driving the ball downfield killing the clock late in the game, it was the defense that set the Eagles up for one last chance for a miracle comeback.
Devante Linville picked off a Hall pass on the 2-yard line and returned it to the 35 with 2:21 remaining.
A personal foul penalty against the Maroons moved the ball up to the 45. On the next play, Harris broke five tackles on his way to a 55-yard touchdown run with 2:10 to go. Harris’ then ran in the two-point conversion to make it 21-18.
But, Pulaski recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to escape with the three-point victory.
On the night, Harris ran the ball 39 times for 276 yards and two touchdowns.
Aaron Slone was 6-of-10 through the air for 81 yards.
Devante Linville finished with two catches for 50 yards, while Andrew Miller had one catch for 27 yards and Harris had three catches for a net of 4 yards.
Hall finished 18-of-26 for 192 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball 10 times for 91 yards and earned the praise of Clark.
“That kid is an outstanding football player. He is the most underrated football player in the state of Kentucky,” Clark said. “He is an outstanding player. My hat’s off to him. That team plays hard and for our defense to hold them to 21 points was an accomplishment.”
The Eagles play host to North Laurel next week at 7:30 p.m.