Dylan Rodrigue had a career day and Carroll County ground out 238 yards rushing Wednesday, but in the end Pulaski’s offense proved too much in a 53-14 victory over the Cavaliers in Dublin.
The game, moved up to a rare Wednesday night due to the impending Hurricane Florence, was similar to Carroll County’s (1-3) previous contest five days earlier against Galax. The Cavaliers started strong, turning Pulaski (3-1) over on downs on its first possession and forcing a punt on the next.
Carroll’s offense struggled mightily in the beginning, however, and Pulaski finally took advantage with 34 seconds left in the opening quarter when Gage Mannon scored on a 10-yard touchdown run. The Cavaliers had to punt four plays later, and a high snap over the punter’s head led to a safety that ignited a second-quarter avalanche of points for the Cougars. Pulaski rang up 29 points in the second to turn a tight game into a 36-0 romp.
“When you are building a program, when you start from ground zero like we are and you are playing great teams, I mean my gosh man, we have went Grayson, Galax, Pulaski and next is Glenvar. I mean, my gosh, who is playing that four-game stretch right there? Ain’t nobody in the state,” Carroll County head coach Jack Turner said after the game. “I mean it is just a gauntlet and then when you have young kids and you are trying to teach them football and the toughness of football, it’s tough right now. We are going through tough times of playing good football teams. Pulaski is a great football team…We have a lot of improving to do and as I get older I get more frustrated and I have about as much patience as a piss ant at a picnic so that doesn’t help matters any. But we are going to be alright. We just have to keep fighting.”
Pulaski took advantage of a lost fumble and an interception in the second period. Quarterback Kade Akers threw touchdown passes of 12, 23 and 26 yards to E.J. Horton during the 12-minute span and Jakari Finley added a 25-yard touchdown run.
After the Cougars opened the third quarter with a 36-yard field goal, Carroll County’s offense started to come to life. Rodrigue, who rushed for a game-high 149 yards on 19 carries, broke loose down the left sideline for a 49-yard touchdown run to make it 39-7. After holding Pulaski to a three-and-out, the Cavaliers sprang another long run on their next play from scrimmage as Cassell McMillian busted through the line untouched and raced 72 yards for a score. Roger Lopez’s extra point brought Carroll to within 39-14.
“To come out in the second half and not give up, that’s what I am proud of,” Turner said. “Just those little things I have to find solace in because if not I am going to go bald.”
The combination of E.J. Horton, a 6-2 receiver who has verbally committed to play football at Division I Kent State, and quarterback Kade Akers, who is also garnering Division I interest, proved hard to defend for the Cavaliers. Akers completed 6-of-9 passes for 87 yards and three touchdowns, while Horton hauled in six receptions for 87 yards and three scores.
“Their speed to the perimeter was faster than us and then when they are running those routes, those combo routes, we have to get as deep as the deepest receiver and we weren’t doing that,” Turner said. “You have a D-I kid making plays against a non-DI player and the D-I player made those plays. Those are just things I have got to get corrected on leverage and angles and things like that and that’s on me.”
Wednesday night was a homecoming for Turner, who played for legendary coach Joel Hicks at Pulaski before serving as the Cougars’ head coach from 2003-2009. Turner said he would be remiss if he didn’t say he felt some emotions prior to the game.
“I lost a lot of blood on this field as a player and I still live here, my daughter is a cheerleader here for the team and a lot of these guys coaching for coach (Stephen) James played for me and coached with me. I would be remiss to say I wasn’t a little sentimental,” Turner said. “When I walked down there it hit me a little more than I thought it would to be honest with you. A lot of great memories here as a player and as a coach.”
Carroll 0 0 14 0 – 14
Pulaski 7 29 3 14 – 53
PC – Mannon 10 run (Castle kick)
PC – Safety, punt snap sails through end zone
PC – Horton 12 pass from Akers (kick failed)
PC – Finley 25 run (Castle kick)
PC – Horton 26 pass from Akers (Castle kick)
PC- Horton 23 pass from Akers (Castle kick)
PC – Castle 36 field goal
CC – Rodrigue 49 run (Lopez kick)
CC – McMillian 72 run (Lopez kick)
PC – Mannon 15 run (Castle kick)
PC – Kennedy 1 run (Simpson kick)
First Downs 10 15
Rushes-Yards 39-238 35-223
Passing 0-3-2 9-14-0
Passing Yards 0 142
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 4-30 12-130
RUSHING – Rodrigue 19-149, McMillian 14-80, Davidson 2-21, Motley 1-2, Horton 2-minus 2, Team 1-minus 12.
PASSING – Motley 0-3-2 0 yds.
RECEIVING – None.
RUSHING – Finley 13-91, Mannon 7-49, Kennedy 7-44, Akers 6-30, Russell 1-8, Dalton 1-1.
PASSING – Akers 6-9-0 87 yds., McCloud 3-5-0 55 yds.
RECEIVING – Horton 6-87, O’Dell 2-31, Burchett 1-24.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN