By DOUG EADS
Earlier last week, Pulaski County head coach Johnny Hines learned that his sensational sophomore quarterback — Drew Polston — had been lost for the season with a shoulder injury suffered in a 15-7 loss to Southwestern.
Compounding matters for Hines and the Maroons, several other key Pulaski County players were going to have to be held out of the regular season finale against Tates Creek to nurse some injuries and try to get healthy before the playoffs began. Not exactly the perfect Senior Night situation.
And, visiting Tates Creek rolled into PC Field on Friday night and took full advantage of both of those scenarios.
Luke Duby — the Commodores outstanding quarterback headed to Cornell University next season to continue his football career — simply torched the PC defense on Friday night from the opening kick until the final horn.
Duby threw five touchdowns against the Maroons, completing 27-40 pass attempts for 537 yards, sending PC down to a second consecutive defeat to end the season, with an impressive, 38-7 victory over the Maroons.
And, Duby made it look very easy.
The Tates Creek senior threw a pair of TD passes in the opening half of play to Elliot Bryant — 14 and 8 yards respectively — and the back breaker for PC was an 87-yard scoring toss late in the first half to his go-to guy, Miles Thomas.
Osvaldo Vasquez added a 27-yard field goal late in the first half, and PC was in big-time trouble at the intermission, trailing the Commodores 24-0 on Senior Night.
Offensively, with guys like Grant Oaks and Jake Sloan out, not to mention the absence of Polston, the PC offense found the going very tough early on and for much of the contest.
With Kaleb Adams at the helm of the Maroons offense, PC struggled to move the football, gaining only 78 yards of total offense in the opening half of play.
In the second half, things didn’t get any better for Hines and crew.
Duby threw two more TD passes — a 70-yard strike to running back Matthew Underwood out of the backfield, and another score to Thomas — this time going for 62 yards.
That gave Tates Creek a commanding, 38-0 lead at that juncture and a running clock, as Pulaski County was heading to loss number two in a row at the end of the 2019 high school football season.
The Maroons were able to avoid the shutout, thanks to a 6-yard TD pass from Adams to running back Tristan Cox, with 8:50 remaining in the game, but by that time, this issue had long since been settled.
For the contest, the Commodores rolled up 596 yards of total offense on 61 plays, while PC gained only 132 yards of total offense for the game on 45 offensive snaps.
With the loss, Pulaski County ended the 2019 regular season with a 7-3 record, but the Maroons will limp into the post season mired in a two-game losing streak.
And, it certainly won’t get any easier for Hines and company in round one of the Class 5 A playoffs this coming week.
In a rematch of the game that Polston was lost for the season with that shoulder injury, arch-rival Southwestern will roll into PC Field on Friday night for a big-time, first round post-season matchup between the county rivals.
The Warriors won the first meeting against Pulaski County two weeks ago in a thriller, defeating the Maroons and snapping PC’s seven-game winning streak with a 15-7 win in overtime.
With that win, the all-time series between these two now stands at 16-15 in favor of the Maroons.
Kickoff for Friday’s game is set to get underway from PC Field beginning at 7:30 p.m.
If you can’t make it to the game, you can tune in to LAKE 102.3 FM on Friday night at 7:15 p.m. with the pregame show, as yours truly and Adam Bray will bring you all of the exciting action on the Don Franklin Family of Dealerships Game of the Week.