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Strong second half carries Pulaski to victory

By Rich Palzewic
Sports Editor

PULASKI – The Pulaski football team used a strong second half to defeat West De Pere 23-14 Oct. 22 in a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 Level 1 game at Pulaski High School.

Trailing 14-7 at the half, the Red Raiders pitched a shutout defensively after intermission in the victory.

It was the second time this season Pulaski beat its Fox River Classic Conference foe.

“Our staff does a great job breaking down how to put our guys in a better position to get the job done,” Pulaski Head Coach Jerad Marsh said. “We’re also blessed that when we sit down with your guys, we get lots of feedback from them, especially in the trenches.”

After kicker Bryce Smith nailed a 32-yard field goal halfway through the first quarter, the Phantoms (4-6) had a 3-0 lead.

The Red Raiders (8-2), behind the bruising running of Maverick Cole, took the ensuing possession 65 yards in six plays to go up 7-3 after the Will Steeno extra point.

Cole, who rushed for more than 50 yards on the drive, capped it off with a 6-yard run near the end of the quarter.

After a series of punts, Smith again hit a field goal – this one from 21 yards away to make it 7-6.

The last four minutes of the half saw plenty of action.

On a Pulaski punt, a snap sailed over punter Mason Wells’ head and rolled into the end zone.

Mason Wells

The junior raced back, corralled the ball, turned around and kicked it 65 yards to the West De Pere 35-yard line.

“That’s happened before, and that time, I messed up and (the opposition) got a touchdown,” Wells, who also plays defensive back, said. “This time, I got the ball off and made a play.”

Wells was back it a few plays later when we picked off Phantoms quarterback Duke Shovald with 1:37 remaining before halftime.

“I was sitting in zone coverage and saw the ball coming,” Wells said. “It was overthrown, and I came in and grabbed it.”

The Red Raiders gave the ball right back with less than a minute remaining on a fumble recovered by Isaac Kaster.

Taking over at their 48-yard line and aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty, West De Pere advanced to the 9-yard line and faced a third-and-goal.

Phantoms Head Coach Chris Greisen called a screen pass to running back Najeh Mitchell, who weaved and danced his way into the end to make it 12-7 with 5 seconds left in the half.

Wide receiver Joey Riesenberg caught the 2-pt. conversion pass from Shovald to increase the lead to 14-7.

A West De Pere turnover late in the third quarter changed the momentum of the game.

A loose ball was pounced on at the 32-yard line, and one play later, Cole rumbled 32 yards around the right end to make it 14-13 after the extra point sailed wide left.

“The turnover changed the game,” Marsh said. “Our defense has put us in great position all year. At times, we haven’t been able to finish drives offensively, so that’s been a focus of ours lately.”

Mitchell had to leave the game on the Phantoms’ next series with an apparent ankle injury but returned later in the game.

To start the fourth quarter, Pulaski’s Riley Lom picked off another Shovald pass and returned it to the 11-yard line.

The drive stalled, and the Red Raiders had to settle for a 27-yard Steeno field goal to make it 16-14 with 9:44 remaining.

Pulaski running back Aaron Marosczek closed the scoring halfway through the fourth quarter on a 29-yard scamper.

The Red Raiders get to host a Level 2 game Friday, Oct. 29, after No. 7 Slinger upset No. 2 Cedarburg, 24-3, in Level 1.

“It’s awesome to see we’ll get another home game,” Marsh said. “I’m especially happy for our seniors and community.”

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