In Sept. 18-24 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
The Pulaski County Maroons (1-2) defeated the visiting Russell County Lakers (1-2) Friday night, 40-23, in a tough battle which saw the Lakers give ground late.
PC’s junior quarterback, Chris Muse, who had been sidelined with an injury had a big night for the Maroons as he had 289 yards of total offense while rushing for 134 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown. He also had 155 yards passing on eight completions.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Laker defense looked as if they could put on another performance like it did a week earlier against Casey County.
In the second quarter, however, the Maroons scored with just under 10 minutes remaining on a 2-yard run by PC halfback Winston Hines.
The Lakers then took the ball down the field, leading to a 32-yard field goal by Bryon Ellis with just over two minutes before halftime.
Russell County went into halftime down, 7-3.
Alex Abner intercepted an Ellis pass early in the third quarter and returned it 33 yards for another score, giving Pulaski a 14-3 lead.
Late in the quarter the Maroons scored again to lead 20-3.
The Lakers fought back and scored when Ellis found Jeron Hammond on a six-yard touchdown pass.
Muse would score again on PC’s next offensive play of the quarter on a 54-yard run, and lead the Lakers 27-10.
Laker Captain and Quarterback Bryon Ellis suffered severe leg cramps late in the third quarter and left the game giving way to sophomore quarterback Martin Cross.
Cross then led the Lakers to two fourth quarter scores, a 13-yard pass to Austin Hill and a 29-yard touchdown run.
“I thought the play of Martin Cross, coming of the bench, showed that he could step up and be a quarterback in times of need,” said Laker Head Coach Bill Sharp. “I thought he executed well and had great composure and was excellent under fire.”
The Maroons would score twice more in the final quarter, a rushing touchdown and one through the air, cementing their 40-23 victory of Russell County.
Landon Meece rushed six times for 78 yards for the Lakers while Jeron Hammond rushed five times for 60 yards. Laker fullback Chandler McGowan had eight carries for 48 yards and Laker Chris Hammond carried seven times for 32 yards.
Sharp noted how his running game was “dismal” in the first half and how his backs turned that around and had a positive second half, gaining 230 yards on the ground in the last two quarters.
Ellis passed for 72 yards on six of 13 completions and two interceptions while Martin Cross passed for a 13-yard touchdown and ran for another
Austin Hill had two catches for 38 yards and a score while Jeron Hammond had 21 yards on two catches and a score.
“We start a new season this week, and that’s district,” Sharp said. “We’re going to talk to our kids about the importance of district play and that these are the ones that really count.”
“We’re a gap control defense and everybody has got to get to their gap and take care of that,” he said, noting that last Friday’s game saw some of his players trying to do their job and others as well.
“Offensively, we’ll just try to execute better and be more physical at the point of attack,” Sharp said. He said this week’s opponent, Franklin-Simpson (1-2, 0-1in district play), runs a spread-shotgun offense and has the potential to be a very dangerous team.
“They’re athletic at the quarterback position ... the Dalcourt kid is being recruited as a D-1 prospect and is top-50 in the state and has a cannon for an arm,” Sharp said.
Sharp is speaking of Courtney Dalcourt, a three-star prospect and the sixth ranked senior in the state according to rivals.com
“We’re both kind of in the same boat, we’re both needing a win.”
Franklin-Simpson lost last Friday to Allen County-Scottsville in their district opener, 40-28.
“It’s going to be a ballgame where someone has to step up and make plays,” he said.