Pullum carries Yellow Jackets to 3-1 mark
On a fine evening for Friday night football, Lee County traveled to play Western Harnett – two squads facing off against each other for the first time since 2010. Over the history of the series between the two, both sides have had periods where one team dominated the other team. This contest would be a test to see how both 3A squads were playing four games into the season.
After opening their season with two road victories, Lee County was coming off a tough loss to Athens Drive.
“It was a long week for us after that loss we had last week. We really didn’t play well against Athens Drive, but we still had a chance to win it, but we didn’t finish it up,” said Yellow Jacket head coach Burton Cates.
Western Harnett coach, Larry Brock, was looking to right the ship after beginning their season with three straight losses. Brock brought a new offensive formation to Friday night’s game. The Eagles had their sophomore quarterback, Austin Speck, under center rather than in the pistol, hoping to be able to find some firepower for a squad that had only scored 12 points in their first three games. Worse yet, Western Harnett had not scored an offensive touchdown coming into the contest with the Yellow Jackets.
Lee County marched down the field with its opening possession. With the ball on the Western Harnett 29 yard line, there was some confusion over the result of a Yellow Jacket pass play on fourth down. Once the officials straightened everything out, it was a first down for Lee County on the Eagles 22 yard line. On the next play, junior quarterback Duane’ Bland scampered to the right for a touchdown to put the Yellow Jackets up with 8:54 left in the first quarter.
After Lee County kicked off, senior Laron Gilchrist carried the ball three straight plays for the Eagles. On fourth and one, Speck, on a quarterback keeper, was stopped short of the first down.
The Yellow Jackets took over and wasted little time finding the end zone. Jerry Pullum, a junior, ran two yards for his first of four touchdowns on the night to put Lee County up 13-0. From a high snap on the point after attempt, Bland, the holder, ran the ball in for a two-point conversion, and with 5:22 remaining in the first quarter Lee County led 15-0.
Lee County had one potential touchdown called back by penalty, then had that drive stall on downs, then the Jackets had a Pullum punt return for a touchdown called back for holding.
"There were some penalties that concerned me in the first half," Cates said.
Nevertheless, Pullum found the end zone a few snaps later. He went for a 37-yard touchdown run and Lee County led 21-0 with 4:28 left in the first half.
After Western Harnett was forced to punt on their next possession, Lee County blocked the kick and took over on the Eagles’ 11 yard line. From there, Pullum ran it in to put the Yellow Jackets ahead 28-0 at the half.
On Lee County’s first possession of the second half, Pullum busted up the middle, virtually untouched, for a 75-yard touchdown run to put the Yellow Jackets ahead 35-0 with 9:14 remaining in the third quarter. Pullum finished the night with 194 yards on 13 carries.
“Pullum had a good night. He runs hard,” Cates said.
With 3:27 remaining in the third quarter, Bubba Wilson scored from two yards out to stake the Yellow Jackets to a 42-0 lead.
After a series of exchanges between the two teams that carried into the fourth quarter, Western Harnett scored its first offensive touchdown of the season with 5:31 remaining in the game. Gilchrist punched the ball in from two yards out.
Cates was glad all 52 of his players got into the game, and that everybody came out of the contest mostly healthy.
He was, also, pleased with his offense, especially with having 11 new starters.
“We told the offensive line this week we felt like they were going to have a good game tonight. They grew up a little bit tonight," he said
The win takes Lee County to 3-1, and drops Western Harnett to 0-4.
Now the Yellow Jackets turn their attention to hosting Overhills next Friday.
“Overhills, a 4A school, has got a good football team," Cates said. "We really want to do well.”