The Wayne County Cardinals, 1-0 on the season and coming off an impressive 41-30 win over Shelby County in the Death Valley Bowl at Lincoln County, hosted Class 5A Pulaski County last Friday night at Jewell Field. The Maroons, coming off an 11-3 season and regional championship last season, entered the matchup with a 0-1 mark, after a 21-14 loss in their opener to Lexington Catholic. The contest marked the 15th meeting between the two schools, as Pulaski County owns a 9-5 series advantage, despite the Cards winning the past three in the series, including a 34-25 road decision last season.Pulaski County sophomore quarterback Drew Polston completed 16 of 23 passes for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus rushed 12 times for 24 yards, which included scoring runs of 3 and 8 yards, as the Maroons erased a 14-0 first half deficit and claimed a 35-27 win. Polston connected with senior Grant Oaks on touchdown passes of 70 and 51 yards, while 6-3 233 lbs. junior running back added 132 rushing yards on 16 attempts, with most of that coming in the second half, as the winners improved to 1-1 on the season.
Senior Eastern Kentucky University commitment Jake Sloan added 6 catches for 50 yards and returned a kickoff 50 yards for a score as the Maroons used 55-plays to net 389 yards of offense with 19 first downs, against two turnovers.
"We got off to a great start in the first quarter, but Pulaski County is an explosive football team with a lot of size across the board, which their size certainly hurt us. We battled all night and never quit, so that attitude and effort are something we can build on. We had the football in their territory with a chance to tie the football game, so I'm very proud of our effort. We had some costly penalties and turnovers that stalled some drives, but we'll go back to work on Monday. This was a very good high school football game, unfortunately we didn't make enough plays to win and credit Pulaski County they did," said Cards head coach Shawn Thompson.
Wayne County used 53 plays to total 388 yards with 14 first downs and committed two turnovers. Junior quarterback Brody Weaver completed 16 of 26 passes for 216 yards with 2 touchdowns, against one interception, plus rushed 8 times for 27 yards. Fellow junior Braedon Sloan added another big night finishing with a game high 135 rushing yards on 19 attempts with touchdown runs of 30 and 36 yards, plus totaled 4 receptions for 51 yards, which included a 20-yard touchdown catch.
Senior wide receivers Tito Ruiz and Dylan Godsey both had career highs in the loss, as Ruiz totaled 5-catches for 86 yards, which included a 54-yard scoring reception, while Godsey nabbed 5-balls for 63 yards.
"We did some good things offensively as a bunch of guys had solid nights, but we also left some points on the board with turnovers and penalties. We had eight penalties, so that's an area we certainly have to clean-up, but some of those we were just outsized and the guys were trying to make a block. We have to play lower on both sides of the line, but as I told our guys with this schedule we're playing "Big Boy" football every week, so we just have to keep grinding. We'll keep mixing and matching until we get the right mix of what we're looking for," said Thompson.
Wayne County marched 57-yards on the opening drive of the game, but a field goal attempt from 28-yards out missed, but the defense forced a quick three and out, which setup the first score of the night. The Cards used 6-plays to travel 51 yards and score on a Braedon Sloan 30-yard touchdown run. Patrick Radilla added the kick and that made the score 7-0 with 2:25 left in the first quarter.
The defense forced a fumble on the next series, recovered by senior linebacker Cody Vaughn and three plays later Sloan rambled in from 36-yards out and it was 14-0 with 11:11 remaining in the first half, but from that point on the half was dominated by the Maroons.
Drew Polston answered back with a 70-yard touchdown pass to Grant Oaks, on the next play from scrimmage and Jackson McAlpin booted the kick to close the gap to 14-7 with 10:46 left in the second period.
After the teams traded empty possessions it was the Polston to Oaks combo again, this time from 51 yards out and a high snap forced the conversion kick to a pass and Kaleb Adams connected with Grant Oaks in the corner of the end zone for two-points, which gave the Maroons their first lead of 15-14, with 4:46 left in the half.
Pulaski County threatened again before the horn, but a drive stalled on the 4-yardline, as Cody Vaughn intercepted a Drew Polston pass, to leave the halftime score at 15-14.
The Maroons opened the second half with the football needed just 7-plays to travel 46 yards and score on a Drew Polston 3-yard touchdown run. The Jackson McAlpin extra point left the score 22-14 with 9:10 left in the third quarter.
Wayne County answered right back on their next possession as Brody Weaver completed passes of 13, 18, 2 and 20-yards to four different receivers, as the completion to Braedon Sloan was the final play of the drive and closed the score to 22-20 with 4:23 left in the third frame. The hosts opted to go for the two-point conversion and the tie, but after an original signal of the run being good, it was ruled short and left the Maroons with the 22-20 edge.
The Cardinals were driving to retake the lead, but a fumble on the Pulaski County 5-yardline stalled the drive on their next series, as the teams traded punts until the middle of the fourth quarter, as the Maroons added to their lead. Pulaski County used runs of 41, 4, 1 4 and 7-yards by Tristen Cox to setup a Drew Polston 8-yard scoring keeper. The Jackson McAlpin extra point pushed the lead to 29-20 with 3:03 remaining in regulation.
Wayne County refused to go-away and answered right back on the next play from scrimmage as Brody Weaver completed a 54-yard scoring strike to Tito Ruiz and Patrick Radilla added the point after to close the gap to 29-27 with still 2:42 left in the ballgame.
The Cards attempted an onside-kick, but it was Jake Sloan making the catch and racing 50-yards on the kickoff return to score, which pushed the lead to 35-27 with 2:34 left in the contest, as the kick failed leaving Wayne County with one more shot.
Braedon Sloan returned the kick to near midfield and the home team appeared in business, as Weaver connected with Carson Simpson for a 24-yard strike and moved the ball inside the Pulaski 23-yardline. That was close as it would get, as a 15-yard penalty was followed by an apparent missed-call on pass interference, as the Cards 4th down and 26 play was intercepted and sealed the Pulaski County 35-27 win.
A review of the defensive stats credit Lee Shelton with 11 total tackles, Cody Roysdon with 9 stops, Cody Vaughn with 7 tackles, an interception and fumble recovery, while Tito Ruiz recorded 6 stops in his first start as a defensive back.
Up next for the Cards was a Friday night road trip to Rockcastle County and details on that matchup are in a related story inside this edition of The Outlook.