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De Pere stuns Southwest with late rally; Bay Port rolls again

De Pere’s Lincoln Schaut (No. 20) and and Tyler Jones (No. 10) make a tackle in the first quarter.

By Rich Palzewic
Sports editor

DE PERE – This was the signature win that the De Pere football team was looking for.

Despite falling behind 21-6 late in the third quarter, the Redbirds came all the way back to post a thrilling 30-28 Fox River Classic Conference victory over Green Bay Southwest Aug. 23 at De Pere High School.

Max Minor nailed a 19-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to keep the Redbirds undefeated (2-0), while Southwest is still looking for its first win (0-2).

After the Trojans had taken a 28-27 lead with 1:43 left, Connor VandenHeuvel returned the ensuing kickoff 57 yards to the Southwest 40-yard line to help set up the winning kick.

When asked where this win ranks, De Pere head coach Chad Michalkiewicz didn’t hold back.

“That’s easily No. 1,” he said. “Last November we challenged the guys for behavioral skills and leadership. The guys never gave up, even being down with less than two minutes to go. It’s a rewarding victory and they earned it.”

Although early in the season, the victory should go a long way in helping De Pere qualify for the WIAA postseason for the first time since 2015, especially with games remaining against the winless Sheboygan schools. The Redbirds will travel to winless Ashwaubenon next week – a win there would realistically qualify them for the playoffs.

Things didn’t start off well for De Pere after they fumbled on the second play from scrimmage.

A few plays later, the Trojans went up 7-0 when quarterback Nick Howard rumbled 27 yards for the score.

After Southwest fumbled at its own seven halfway through the second quarter, the Redbirds pulled to within one when Minor caught a seven-yard pass from junior quarterback Christian Bocik on a fourth-down play.

“Christian didn’t know he was going to start until (Thursday morning),” said Michalkiewicz. “(Starting quarterback) Landon (Kirby) wasn’t suited up because of a knee injury. Even though Landon had won the job, we had given each of those guys equal reps in practice up to this point. I had told Christian to be ready and he was confident.”

The senior Kirby missed all of last year with a torn ACL, so Bocik got nine starts a season ago.

With the Trojans leading 14-6 late in the second quarter, the Redbirds got the ball back with 53 seconds remaining before the half when Southwest muffed a punt inside its own 10.

De Pere failed to score from inside the one after Bocik fumbled the snap on fourth down with six seconds left.

The Trojans appeared to put the game out of reach when they made it 21-6 with 2:18 remaining in the third quarter, but that’s when the Redbirds began their comeback.

Helped on the drive by a 44-yard pass from Bocik to Minor, De Pere pulled to within a score when Josh Heisdorf hauled in a 17-yard TD strike from Bocik with under a minute to go in the quarter. Heisdorf also added the two-point conversion.

What ensued shortly thereafter was the key point in the game.

With Southwest lining up for a 47-yard field goal, De Pere inside linebacker Jake Proulx blocked Camden Czarnecki’s attempt early in the fourth quarter.

With the ball rolling around inside the 10, Lincoln Schaut picked it up and ran 92 yards down the sidelines for the game-tying score.

Tied at 21 with 7:19 remaining, Michalkiewicz decided to punt from the 41-yard line instead of going for it. The gamble paid off when the kick went out of bounds at the Trojans three. Howard fumbled on the first play thereafter, which led to a Caelan Markusen four-yard TD run with 5:52 left in the game. The extra point was blocked.

“It was clearly evident that we were the more disciplined team all night,” Michalkiewicz added. “Southwest kept coming, but we didn’t back down. We knew we weren’t going to make the mistake and we knew that when Southwest made the mistake, we could capitalize. We don’t win this game last season.”

Leading by that 21-6 margin, the Trojans stacked the box to force the Redbirds to throw the ball, but Bocik answered the bell.

Southwest outgained De Pere by a 467 to 224 margin, but four turnovers didn’t help its cause.

Bocik was 15-of-25 passing for 200 yards and two touchdowns.

Receivers Heisdorf and Ethan Hohol each caught five balls for 74 and 59 yards respectively.

Another key statistic was the 105 yards in penalties that the Trojans had compared to the Redbirds’ 25.

Elijah Wright led De Pere with 8.5 tackles, while Daniel Youngquist chipped in with 8.

Box Score

Southwest: 7, 7, 7, 7 – 28

De Pere: 0, 6, 8, 16 – 30

Bay Port rolls again: For the second week in a row, the Pirates got an easy FRCC win.

Behind a near-perfect night from quarterback Jake Plummer, Bay Port rolled to a 49-0 victory over Sheboygan South.

Plummer was 10-of-11 passing for 149 yards with a touchdown pass to Tristan Pagel. The senior signal caller also rushed one in for a score.

Junior Isaiah Gash rushed 19 times for 126 yards and had three TDs.

Defensively, Logan Geissler had a pair of interceptions for the Pirates (2-0 overall, 2-0 FRCC).

Bay Port has now won 20 consecutive conference games dating back to the 2016 season.

Box Score

Bay Port: 7, 21, 14, 7 – 49

Sheboygan South: 0, 0, 0, 0 – 0

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