Defense, Bensen carry Pirates to win over Pulaski
By Murray Gleffe
PULASKI – If you like defense, this was the game for you.
On a wet and windy evening at Saputo Stadium in Pulaski, Bay Port quarterback Cole Bensen’s 80-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the fourth quarter broke a scoreless tie and helped Bay Port defeat Pulaski, 14-0, in a Fox River Classic Conference game Sept. 24.
“Our defense was exceptional,” Bay Port Head Coach Gary Westerman said. “In the games we struggled, we gave up big plays. Our ability to not have (Pulaski) go off for more than a 10- to 15-yard run was critical. Our coaches did an amazing job game planning. We made two plays in the second half which were difference makers.”
Bay Port had slightly more than 150 yards of total offense, while Pulaski was held to fewer than 100.
Red Raiders running backs Maverick Cole and Aaron Maroszek were held to 80 yards combined on the ground.
In a matchup of top 10 teams (Bay Port No. 10 in Division 1, Pulaski No. 5 in Division 2), the game started innocently enough with three punts in the opening stanza.
However, with a wet field, the turnovers mounted with each possession.
The Red Raiders coughed up the rock first, but the Pirates handed it back with an interception of their own.
With neither team garnering much yardage because of the weather and stingy defenses, Bay Port finally moved the ball within Pulaski’s 30-yard line in the second quarter, but Bensen’s keeper on 4th-and-7 went nowhere.
As the wind continued to pick up, field possession became a huge issue.
“We couldn’t get anything going into the wind,” Westerman said. “We tried a couple of deep passes downwind which didn’t turn out, either. It was hard offensively to gather any momentum.”
At the end of the third quarter, the Red Raiders (5-1 overall, 3-1 FRCC) punted the ball into the end zone, and the Pirates set up shop at their 20 to start the final quarter.
On the first play of the quarter, the Pirates (5-1, 3-1) sent a man in motion.
A few Pulaski defenders bit on the play, and Bensen raced 80 yards for the first score of the game.
“It was one of our base plays,” Westerman said. “(Bensen) made the read and went the distance.”
Midway through the final quarter, disaster struck for the Red Raiders.
After being stopped inside their 15-yard line, a bad snap on a punt led to the ball rolling around in the end zone.
The Pirates swarmed on the ball to go up 14-0 after the extra point.
Down the stretch, neither team tickled the goal line as Bay Port avenged last week’s 19-15 loss to De Pere with a bounce-back win.
“Our special teams were difference-makers tonight,” Westerman said. “We flipped the field a couple of times, which ultimately kept Pulaski off the scoreboard. It was a pivotal game we got tonight. I don’t need to lie to them – they are smart kids, and they know what the game meant. We persevered, and now we have next Friday to focus on.”
Bay Port: 0, 0, 0, 14 – 14
Pulaski: 0, 0, 0, 0 – 0