GREENWOOD The expected offensive shootout between Class 5A No. 1 Greenwood and No. 6 Pulaski Academy instead turned into a defensive slugfest Friday.
The Bruins wore down a tiring Greenwood defense, escaping Smith-Robinson Stadium with a 21-14 victory in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A playoffs.
Pulaski Academy (9-3) will meet Monticello (12-0) in the semifinals next week. Greenwood f inished its season 10-2.
The Bruins ran 103 plays to Greenwood’s 54, but the victory wasn’t settled until Dylan Little’s interception of a Tyler Shook pass near midfield with four seconds left. It was the third interception thrownby Shook, who was 25 of 43 for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our [defense],” Pulaski Academy Coach Kevin Kelley said.
Pulaski Academy broke a 14-14 tie with 38 seconds remaining when Caleb Jones hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Wil Nicks. It culminated a 10-play, 80-yard drive that included a 24-yard pass to Jones on fourth-and-8.
Kelley decided not to punt at that point after opting to punt for only the second time this season with 3:56 left. Greenwood took over at the 50 and scored in five plays. Shook passed 8 yards to Spencer Harris for the touchdown, one play after finding Harris for 32 yards. The pair hooked up for the two-point conversion to forge a 14-14 tie with 2:26 left.
“I thought when it was 14-all good things were going tohappen to us,” Greenwood Coach Rick Jones said.
That wasn’t the case most of the night for the Bulldogs. They were held to zero yards rushing while giving up 119 rushing and 481 total yards to the Bruins.
But Greenwood showed an opportunistic defense most of the game. The Bulldogs stopped Pulaski Academy four times on fourth down and picked off four passes.
Drew Hasley had an interception on the final play of the first half to keep the game scoreless. Harris intercepted a pass at the 1 with nine minutes remaining in the game when Pulaski Academy held a 14-6 lead.
“We didn’t execute very well offensively and [Pulaski Academy] did a good job defensively,” Jones said. “I don’t know how you could expect any more out of our guys. They fought hard andleft everything on the field. They have no regrets.”
The Bruins broke the scoreless tie early in the third quarter, driving 75 yards and capping it with a 3-yard run by Nicks for a 7-0 lead.
Greenwood answered with a 49-yard drive. Shook passed 12 yards to Stephen Hogan with 6:02 left in the third quarter. A bad snap on the extra point left the Bulldogs trailing 7-6.
Nicks ran 4 yards for his second touchdown, pushing the lead to 14-6 with 2:15 left in the third quarter.
Nicks was 36 of 60 for 348 yards. He also ran 28 times for 106 yards to account for 454 yards total offense on 88 plays. Harris caught 12 passes for 101 yards for the Bulldogs.
This was the fourth consecutive year the two teams met in the playoffs. The winner scored at least 50 points in the previous three meetings.