Saturday, November 02, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Pulaski Academy pulls away from Sylvan Hills

Leader sportswriter

The game was close up to a point before Pulaski Academy turned into its typical self and scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat Sylvan Hills 49-25 going away at Bill Blackwood Field on Friday.

The Bruins (9-0, 6-0) wrapped up its fourth-consecutive 5A Central Conference championship with the victory, but got all they wanted from the Bears (6-3, 4-2) through three quarters.

Sylvan Hills made things interesting late in the third quarter when Garrett Barham intercepted a pass from PA quarterback Will Hefley and returned it 40 yards to the Bruin 26-yard line. Quarterback Tra Doss punched it in for a touchdown six plays later form 12 yards out with 16 seconds remaining in the period to cut the lead to 28-25 following Philip Wood’s successful extra-point kick.

But that’s where the fun ended for Sylvan Hills.

Hefley then led the Bruins on three quick scoring drives, with a 30-yard pass play to Tre Bruce, a 15-yard touchdown run by Tyler Colquitt and a 3-yard pass to Will Hastings, all within a span of 4:08.

“Moral victories are for guys who aren’t looking to win conference championships,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “We were looking to win a conference championship and get a piece of it, and it didn’t happen, but I’m proud of our kids. We’ve come a long way, and we’re still young, but we’ve still got a bunch of growing to do.

“We need to win a big game now. Playing close, it gets you a little bit more hungry, but we need to win a big game now.”

The Bears had a chance to strike first to open the third quarter with a 49-yard drive that started at midfield and stalled at the PA 1-yard line when Doss was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on fourth down.

The Bruins then drove the length of the field before SH senior defensive back Chris Daily intercepted Hefley at the 1-yard line and returned it to the Bears’ 17.

Pulaski Academy got the ball back on the following play when junior running back Marlon Clemmons was stripped of the ball for a Bruin fumble recovery at the 22-yard line. Bruce scored three plays later on a 15-yard run to give the Bruins a 28-10 lead.

Clemmons made up for it on the Bears’ next play when he scooted 52 yards down the right side to score with 4:06 to go in the third to make it 28-17.

Sylvan Hills ran the ball effectively against a rugged, stingy Bruins defense that penetrated the line of scrimmage at will. The Bears had 268 rushing yards, but it was lack of production in the air that hurt the Bears the most. Doss completed only 2 of 15 pass attempts for 21 yards to give Sylvan Hills a total of 289 offensive yards.

“I think there was some confusion at times, and some things we could have done better either way,” Withrow said of his team’s lack of passing success. “That’s my fault. I’ve got to do a better job of coaching that up. Hopefully we’ll get better at that. We’ve been almost balanced at times, and I thought we had a good plan, we just didn’t finish it.”

The Bruins on the other hand went mostly through the air, with Hefley completing 27 of 43 pass attempts for 424 yards, three touchdowns and as many interceptions. The Bruins gained 185 yards on the ground for 609 total yards. Bruce led all receivers for Pulaski Academy with 7 receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown.

The Bears will wrap up 5A Central Conference play next week at nearby rival North Pulaski.