Defensive Lineman with Autism Scores Touchdown

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Desmond Pulliam, Lockhart player born on the autism spectrum, scores inspiring touchdown

The final play of Lockhart’s scrimmage against Bastrop last Thursday night is one that senior defensive lineman Desmond Pulliam will never forget. Pulliam, who was born on the autism spectrum, scooped up a fumble and raced to the end zone to score his first career touchdown in memorable fashion.

Pulliam, who is also a member of Lockhart’s band and JROTC program, has been a member of the Lockhart football program since before current Lockhart coach Todd Moebes was hired back in March of 2019.

“I’ve known Desmond for now about 18 months,” Moebes said. “He’s just been a good member of our football team and our football program. [I’m] excited to have him a part of it.”

Pulliam is the third player that Moebes has coached that was born on the autism spectrum. After providing opportunities for the two other players to score their first career touchdowns under his watch at Abilene Cooper, Moebes had a similar idea when he first met Pulliam.

“Whenever I met Desmond early on after I was hired, certainly those thoughts of being able to find that opportunity for him [to score] was in my mind,” Moebes said. “With this year being his senior year, I was actually going to try to plan on doing it at our spring game.”

In what has been a common occurrence across 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic promptly ruined those plans. Luckily for Moebes, he and his Lockhart team were squaring off against an understanding coach in Bastrop’s Todd Patmon in their preseason scrimmage.

“I just called Coach Patmon last week and just said ‘hey man I need a huge favor,’” Moebes said. “I kind of explained a little bit about what was going on and he was very grateful. It just shows what kind of man Coach Patmon is. [He] understood the reason behind being able to present Desmond with that opportunity to score.”

When Desmond’s opportunity came, he took full advantage. After Bastrop’s snap went flying beyond its quarterback and running back, Pulliam, in his maroon number 44 Lockhart jersey, raced onto the loose ball and scooped it up near Lockhart’s midfield logo. Pulliam then sprinted the remaining fifty-plus yards surrounded by teammates and engulfed by the noise of the roaring crowd. When he got to the end zone, he was mobbed by his exuberant teammates as they joined in on the celebration of Desmond’s first ever touchdown.

“It was great. I will certainly remember everything about Desmond’s [touchdown],” Moebes said. “It just fills you with pride, and it fills you with joy. It just shows how much impact a game can be able to have on a player, a team, [and] a community.”

After a year full of uncertainty and heartbreak amidst a global pandemic, Desmond’s touchdown certainly lifted the spirits of everyone involved and proved that anyone can achieve anything that they set their mind to.

“It’s one play and having the opportunity for a young man to be able to do something special like that. It’s huge,” Moebes said. “It brings a lot of pride and joy being able to be his coach.”

Additional Reading: Here are the rest of the top moments from week 4 of Texas High School Football: https://texashsfootball.com/top-10-week-4-texas-high-school-football-moments/

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