Turner Pullen, the Shelbyville quarterback that led the Rams to back-to-back 2A State Final 4 appearances, called the signals as the red-shirt freshman quarterback for McKendree University this past fall.

Pullen was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Freshman of the Year. His season passing stats were all team record-setters for a first-year QB at McKendree.

The freshman completed 169 passes out of 280 tries (60.4%) with just 7 INT’s. He racked up 2407 yards and 24 TD’s passing and ran for 301 yards and 8 TD’s.

He averaged passing for 218.8 yards per game. His longest passing TD was for 75 yards. His longest rushing TD was 20 yards.

In his first season as McKendree quarterback, Pullen’s 24 touchdown passes ranks second on the Bearcats’ all-time single-season chart.

His longest TD pass this season came in the final game against Missouri S&T, a 75-yard strike. Pullen had 12 touchdown passes of at least 40 yards this season, including nine that went for 50 yards or more.

In addition to passing, Pullen was third on the Bearcats’ squad with 301 rushing yards, and he led the team with eight rushing touchdowns. The eight TDs are the most for a McKendree quarterback since 2015.

At Shelbyville High School, Pullen set the IHSA state record for touchdown passes in a season (41) as a senior. He also set state season records for points and points in a career while finishing second in state history in touchdowns. Pullen threw for 3,070 yards while rushing for 1,076 yards as a senior for the Rams.

Pullen led the Rams to three straight playoff seasons at Shelbyville and back-to-back appearances in the state semifinals as a junior (2016) and senior (2017). He was a two-time first-team All-State performer as well as conference Player of the Year as a senior.

In his first start at McKendree, against Northern Michigan, Pullen drew first blood with a 28-yard TD pass for a McKendree lead. They lost, 30-9. He passed for 133 yards, more yardage than Northern Michigan.

In his second start, Pullen ran for 40 yards and threw for 176 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter to cut the deficit to one TD, then a 12-yard TD pass with 4:00 left, cutting the deficit to 5 points.

McKendree then lost to #14 Indianapolis. Pullen figured in all 3 Bearcat TD’s. He threw for 199 yards. He completed 13 passes with one INT. He threw a 15-yards TD pass and a 62-yard TD pass. He also ran for a 1-yard TD.

Pullen and McKendree (1-3) notched his first win, beating Chowan (1-3), 42-35. Pullen threw 5 TD passes and dove across the goal for the winning score. Pullen threw for a 22-yard TD, a 68-yard TD, a 45-yard TD, and a 63-yard TD. He completed 19 passes for 344 yards and no INT’s. Pullen was GLVC Offensive Player of the Week for that victory.

McKendree went to 1-4 losing homecoming, 45-37. Pullen completed 23 of 35 passes for 298 yards and 4 TD’s with one INT. He threw a 46-yard TD pass and an 8-yard TD pass. He threw a 54-yard TD pass and a 7-yard TD pass.

McKendree then won 4 of the next 6 games to end the season.They beat Wheeling, 28-14. Pullen rushed for 59 yards, his longest was 16 yards. He threw 9-of-22 for 87 yards and one INT, but no TD’s. His longest pass was 48 yards.

Against William Jewell College, McKendree rolled, 42-12. Pullen ran for 17 yards and a TD. He competed 19 of 26 passes with no INT’s for 280 yards and 3 TD’s. He threw 26-yard TD pass, a 2-yard TD pass and a 68-yard TD pass.

McKendree went to 4-4 on a wet day with a win over Southwest Baptist, 24-14. Pullen ran for 45 yards with an 8-yard TD run. He competed 2-of-8 passes for 20 yards.

They lost to Truman State, 45-17. Pullen had -6 yards rushing, but threw 22-of-31 for 292 yards with an INT and 2 TD’s. He threw a 40-yard TD pass and a 60-yard TD pass.

The Bearcats (5-5) bouned back with a win over Quincy University, 62-34. Pullen ran for 11 yards and 2 TD’s. He threw 15-of-21 for 302 yards and 3 TD’s, with no INT’s.

He threw a 10-yard TD pass, a 69-yard TD pass, and a 50-yard TD pass. He ran a 4-yard score and a 1-yard score.

In their final game, they lost to Missouri S&T (7-4), 51-50. They were down by 21 points to start the 2nd half. Pullen an a 3-yard TD. Down by 14 in the 4th quarter, Pullen threw a 23-yard TD pass. They tied the game on a run TD, 44-44. Down 51-44, Pullen scored a 1-yard TD run to make it 51-50. They went for the win, but the extra-point pass failed by a point.

Pullen ran for 47 yards and two TD’s and threw 14-of-27 for 276 yards and 2 TD’s with no INT’s. His first TD pass of the game was for 75 yards, a season longest.

John Curtis can be reached at john.curtis@shelbyvilledailyunion.com

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