September 15, 2011
Because of the great variety in high school sports, it's exceedingly rare that a statistic pops up that is nearly unfathomable. Yet, in a much ballyhooed Arkansas matchup between perennial power Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy and Cabot (Ark.) High, one figure in particular jumped off the page: Pulaski led the game 29-0 before Cabot ever ran a play.
If you're anything like Prep Rally, this is where you stop and say, "Wait, what? That's impossible!"
Using conventional football wisdom, such a scoreline absolutely would be impossible. For Pulaski head coach Kevin Kelley, whom this Sports Illustrated feature calls one of the least predictable thinkers in high school football, a 29-0 scoreline before a foe gets to possess the ball only requires thinking outside the box and a whole lot of onside kicks, all of which you can see above.
"That game the other night, they were just stunned," Kelley told Sports Illustrated about the early lead. "Emotionally, it takes so much out of you when the other team goes for it successfully or recovers an onside kick -- or three of them in a row."
After winning the opening coin toss, Pulaski drove down the field for a touchdown. Immediately following the score, the Bruins lined up to kick off … and used an onside kick. Moments later, the team was back in the end zone, celebrating another touchdown. As Pulaski lined up for another kickoff, it would have seemed almost unthinkable that it try another onside kick. It did, and it recovered it again, and scored again.
If you thought the onside kicks would stop with a near 30-point lead, you're wrong. Pulaski actually attempted a fourth straight onside kick, but Cabot finally recovered. Yet the plays immediately following Cabot's recovery were hardly more successful, as Pulaski used an 11-man rush to fluster Cabot's quarterback, who promptly fired off incompletions instead of hitting wide-open receivers.
Of course, the receivers were wide open because Pulaski was leaving them uncovered; after all, that's the only way a team could manage an 11-man rush.
As one might expect, the Bruins racked up some truly gaudy stats in their 64-34 victory, buoyed by the surprising 29-0 opening edge. Most notably, quarterback Fredi Knighten passed for 456 yards and six touchdowns in a 24-for-28 performance. He also added 100 yards on the ground and two more rushing touchdowns. That's eight total scores, the highlights of which you can see in the video directly above.
The Bruins were also incredibly efficient with the football; they scored nine touchdowns and turned the ball over just once, on a fumble by Aum'arie Wallace … and that came on the defensive side of the ball, after he had recovered a turnover himself.
While it's unlikely Pulaski will be able to put together statistics that are as glaring as it did on Friday, with Kelley at the helm one can never count out such a feat. Until it does, football fans in Arkansas and across the nation can look back on the team that built a 29-0 lead before their opponent touched the ball with a sense of sheer astonishment.
Given that the Bruins moved all the way up to No. 77 in the RivalsHigh 100 following their victory, it's likely that even more people will be keeping an eye on them, too.
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