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Jorgensen field goal wins it for De Pere

By Greg Bates

PULASKI – Jack Jorgensen had never made a field goal in his high school career.

In fact, he had never attempted one.

But De Pere football coach Chad Michalkiewicz didn’t hesitate to call on Jorgensen with the game on the line – with a conference title on the line.

The two exchanged a quick word prior to Jorgensen going in to attempt a game-winning field goal.

“Jorgensen looked at me and said, ‘I’m absolutely going to pound this thing,’” Michalkiewicz said.

Jorgensen was true to his word.

The senior made a 39-yard field goal as the final horn sounded to give No. 6-ranked De Pere an improbable 17-14 victory over No. 8-ranked Pulaski Friday night.

The win assures De Pere a share of the Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) North title.

The Redbirds can capture the championship – outright for the first time since 2015 – next week against Green Bay Preble.

In the biggest kick of his life, Jorgensen – who is a starting defensive back as well as a starter on the boys’ basketball team – wasn’t too stressed about the kick.

“I was pretty calm,” he said. “We do that in practice. We’ve got guys screaming at me in practice when I’m trying to kick. Those guys know me better, so they know how to get in my head. This one was easier for me.”

After the kick sailed through the uprights, the De Pere players celebrated near midfield.

“It feels amazing,” Jorgensen said. “My teammates, they knew I was going to make it, and I had to do it for them because they had lots of confidence in me.”

It was pure jubilation for the De Pere players and pure heartbreak for the Pulaski guys.

Had the Red Raiders pulled off the home victory, they would have gotten at least a share of the conference crown.

“That was a great high school football game,” Pulaski Head Coach Jerad Marsh said. “Somebody had to lose and, unfortunately, it was us.”

De Pere (7-1 overall, 6-0 FRCC) made Pulaski (6-2, 4-2) play catch-up all game, and it finally took its toll on the Red Raiders.

De Pere, whose seniors had never beaten Pulaski in football in high school, set the tone on the game’s fourth play from scrimmage.

Using jet motion, quarterback Gabe Herman hit a pop pass to Jack May.

The speedy wide receiver got around the left corner and was gone, racing 68 yards to the end zone.

“Honestly, I was trying to get to the left side and maybe come back with a rollout to the right,” Michalkiewicz said. “We’re a blend offense like that, but when I saw it pre-snap, they didn’t adjust to our shift. I said on the headphones, ‘This thing might go.’ Once he gets the edge, nobody’s catching him.”

After De Pere’s defense forced Pulaski to punt on its first two drives, the Redbirds’ offense went to work.

It took three plays to score as Herman dropped back and spotted May, who had slipped past two defenders.

May got in for a 52-yard touchdown to put his team up 14-0 after the extra point early in the second quarter.

Working from a short field, starting at De Pere’s 49, Pulaski needed a scoring drive before the half to stay in the game.

Quarterback Derek Block rolled out and found Jacob Doxtater, who got into the end zone from 31 yards out.

The score pulled Pulaski within 14-7 after the extra point with 1:11 remaining in the opening half.

Pulaski – as it does best – kept pounding the ball up the middle.

Running back Maverick Cole opened the Red Raiders’ second drive of the third quarter with a 23-yard scamper.

Three players, Aaron Maroszek took a handoff, bowled around the left side and scored from 21 yards out to make it 14-14 after the extra point.

Pulaski’s defense stopped De Pere with six minutes left.

The Red Raiders got the ball back with prime field possession at the Redbirds’ 38.

Facing a third-and-2, Pulaski put the ball in the hands of its bruising runner, Cole, who got one yard.

Pulaski opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 and Cole got another carry.

Again, the De Pere defense rose to the occasion as a host of defenders pushed Cole back to force the turnover on downs with 4:03 remaining.

“We were confident all night as a defense,” De Pere defensive leader Caleb Rinard, who was back on the field after missing last week’s game with a dislocated elbow, said. “We knew we could beat them. We knew we could stop them.”

On four of its eight drives in the game, Pulaski started either at midfield or inside De Pere territory.

“We didn’t help our defense,” Michalkiewicz said. “Pulaski’s going to hit you at some point because they keep ramming their head against the wall. At some point, they’re going to find a crease. But I can’t compliment our defense enough – they did a great job.”

In the final drive, De Pere mixed the run well with the pass.

Michael Alexander had back-to-back carries – his only two rushes of the game – and picked up 15 yards to get to Pulaski’s 37.

Herman had a five-yard run, and Sean Colwell picked up four yards to get to the 22.

After an incomplete pass stopped the clock with 1 second left, Jorgensen trotted onto the field before Pulaski called a timeout.

Prior to the drive, Jorgensen told Michalkiewicz if the offense could get down to at least the 28-yard line, he’d be good to attempt a field goal.

Jorgensen – who said he was drilling 45-yard field goals in warmups – also preferred to be in the middle of the field, but he ended up being on the left hash mark.

So, was Jorgensen comfortable from that spot?

“Somewhat,” he said. “In practice, no, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do in games.”

De Pere will end its regular-season schedule against visiting Green Bay Preble Friday, Oct. 15.

“It’s everything we wanted,” Rinard said. “We want the conference for ourselves. We don’t want to share it with anybody. We want it for us because we think we deserve it. We’ve worked hard for it. We’ve put in the work and we’ve put in the effort.”

Michalkiewicz agreed.

“We talk to the kids, ‘Life is about earning opportunities, and nothing is guaranteed.’” he said. “They earned the right to play for a conference championship, and they took advantage of it.”

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