On paper it was considered to be a mismatch with two teams heading in opposite directions.
On the field, it proved to be as big of a mismatch as it was on paper.
Homestanding Pulaski County — coming into last night’s opening round of the post season with a 7-3 mark on the year and a third district championship in the past four seasons — made short work of 2-8 Letcher County Central on Friday night at PC Field.
Freshman quarterback Riley Hall looked like a wily veteran last night, completing 24 of 36 passes for a season-high 349 yards and five touchdowns, as the Maroons ran their all-time playoff record at home to 8-0 with an impressive, 56-22 beatdown over the Cougars.
“That was a pretty good offensive showing by our team tonight,” stated a very happy head coach Johnny Hines, after watching his club move to 8-3 on the year with the win.
“When you put up that many points, you’re certainly going to have a lot of yards,” added Hines, when talking about his club’s 593 yards of total offense in the victory. “I’m really proud of our offense, and I think our offensive line has really came together better than it has all year long — those guys have done a great job all season for us. Tonight we started with Kyle Varney at tackle and Hunter Merrick at guard on the left side. Isaiah Jasper of course is our anchor at center, and we moved Jacob Gross to guard on the right side, and we had Tristan Tilley at right tackle. This was probably the best our offensive line has played all year long.”
Indeed, with Pulaski’s offensive line seemingly giving Riley Hall all kinds of time to throw the football, the youngster certainly took advantage by turning in the most prolific night of his young prep career through the air.
Hall hooked up with fellow freshman Mason Helton for two scores — the first on a 65-yard scoring toss and the second on a 15-yard pass play — giving the Maroons a quick, 14-0 lead after one quarter of play over Letcher County Central.
Tyler Goins who enjoyed a big night on the ground for PC by rushing for 111 yards on only nine attempts, also got in on the act through the air, hauling in an 11-yard pass from Hall extending the PC lead out to 21-0 midway through the second period of play.
Goins then scored on a 12-yard run to give the Maroons a 28-0 advantage, before Letcher County Central’s Chris Tyree scored on a 56-yard run, trimming the deficit at the intermission to 28-8 in favor of the Maroons.
“Our receivers are getting better as far as running sharper and more consistent routes,” pointed out coach Hines.
“Our passing game is really coming along, and I thought we really ran the ball well tonight also,” Hines remarked. “Tyler (Goins) had another good game of running the football, and I thought Aaron Smith had a great game tonight running the ball for us as well.”
With Pulaski County’s run game clicking on all cylinders and Riley Hall picking the Letcher County Central secon-dary to pieces, the Maroons were never really threatened in their opening game of the 2012 Class 5A playoffs.
Riley Hall continued his huge night in the third quarter, by hooking up with senior Alec Wooldridge for two more touchdown passes, giving him five TD’s on the night to go along with his 349 yards passing.
The first connection by that duo went for a 39-yard score on a pass play, and later in the frame, Hall hit Wooldridge for a 35-yard scoring toss, which at that time gave PC a 49-14 lead over the Cougars.
Aaron Smith also tallied a touchdown in that third period, thanks to a 10-yard run, as the Maroons were rolling along on their way to the lopsided win over Letcher County Central.
Another freshman — Jesse Whitaker — finished off the scoring for Pulaski with a 6-yard scoring run with 10:40 remaining in the game, that at that time gave Pulaski County a 56-14 lead.
The Cougars put together one late drive against the Maroon reserves, when quarterback Zane Blair hooked up with Houston Watts for a 15-yard score, giving PC its final margin of victory at 56-22, as Watts also scored on a two-point conversion pass from Blair.
With the win, the Maroons improved to 8-3 on the year and will be back at the friendly confines of PC Field next week, when Hines and company will host the Whitley County Colonels in the second round of the playoffs.
The Colonels advanced to round two of the post season party thanks to a come from behind, 41-20 win over North Laurel last night in Williamsburg.
The Colonels and Pulaski County are no strangers to one another, as the two met way back in early-August this season in a preseason scrimmage at Whitley County.
Coming out of that first meeting, the Maroons head coach says he knows exactly what to expect next week when Whitley County rolls into PC Field — an all out war.
“It’s going to be an exciting week, because it’s going to be round two of the playoffs, and we’ve got a very, very good Whitley County team that will be coming in here to meet us,” stated Hines.
“Somebody told me the other day that since the end of the ‘06 season, that we’ve been to round two or later in the playoffs in five of the last six years,” continued the PC coach. “That’s pretty good I guess. We just want to continue to move on and take them one game at a time. Whitley County is a really good outfit. We scrimmaged against them real early before the season got started, and we kind of know that they’ve got. That’s going to be a very good test for us.”
Not only was Pulaski County’s offense impressive in last night’s win over Letcher County Central, but the Maroons defense continues to show improvement on a weekly basis.
In last night’s win, PC’s ‘D’ forced the Cougars into 3 turnovers, while holding Letcher County Central to just 268 yards of total offense.
“Our defense certainly played well tonight, and it continues to get better and better with each week,” stated Hines.
“I thought we really gave Letcher County Central a lot of problems tonight when Keenan Hall kept putting pressure on their quarterback all night long over and over with some blitzes,” added the PC coach. “He really gave them all kinds of problems when he blitzed them, and our secondary did a really nice job tonight as well, and just continues to seemingly get better and better.”
Kickoff for next week’s game between Whitley County and Pulaski County is set to get underway next Friday night from PC Field beginning at 7:30 p.m.
LCC — 0 8 6 8 — 22
PC — 14 14 21 7 — 56
PC — Helton 65 pass from R. Hall (Burgett kick)
PC — Helton 15 pass from R. Hall (Burgett kick)
PC — Goins 11 pass from R. Hall (Burgett kick)
PC — Goins 12 run (Burgett kick)
LC — Tyree 56 run (Tyree conv. run)
PC — Smith 10 run (Burgett kick)
PC — Wooldridge 39 pass from R. Hall (Burgett kick)
LC — Blair 30 run (Conv. run failed)
PC — Wooldridge 35 pass from R. Hall (Burgett kick)
PC — Whitaker 6 run (Burgett kick)
LC — Watts 15 pass from Blair (Watts conv. pass from Blair)
RUSHING — (LCC) Tyree 15-149 TD. (PC) Goins 9-111 TD, Smith 6-57 TD, Whitaker 4-24 TD.
PASSING — (LCC) Blair 13-30 123 TD INT (PC) R. Hall 24-36 349 5 TD.
RECEIVING — (LCC) Watts 4-66 TD, Boggs 4-20. (PC) Helton 5-97 2 TD, Goins 8-86 TD, Wooldridge 3-77 2 TD, Gregory 2-46, A. Hall 3-31, Smith 4-24.