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Pulaski defense stops Slinger late, advances to Level 3

By Murray Gleffe

PULASKI – The Pulaski football team has relied on its defense all season, and its Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division 2 Level 2 game against Slinger Oct. 29 was no different.

The No.3-seeded Red Raiders came up with two fourth-quarter stops to help carry them to a 10-7 victory over No. 7 Slinger at Pulaski High School.

“Our defense has been the reason we’re able to win close games like the one tonight,” Pulaski Head Coach Jerad Marsh said. “They’re a special group.”

Aaron Maroszek led the Red Raiders on the ground with 150 yards rushing and one touchdown, while Maverick Cole added 78 yards on 10 carries.

Pulaski’s defense held Slinger running back Avery Kurth to 80 yards on 22 carries.

The junior entered the game with 1,166 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The game featured five punts to start the contest, with neither team generating much offense.

Near the end of the first quarter, Pulaski took over at its 10-yard line heading into a 20-mph wind.

On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Derek Block hit a streaking Jacob Doxtater for 49 yards.

“We know as the season and postseason arrive, we have to complete passes,” Marsh said. “(Block) did a nice job on the downfield throw.”

Two plays later, Maroszek made a few moves up the middle and dashed to the end zone from 39 yards out to give the Red Raiders a 7-0 lead after the extra point.

On Slinger’s next possession to open the second quarter, Pulaski defensive back Jake Laskowski picked off Owl’s quarterback Tanner Hora to end the drive.

“(Laskowski) is a senior who played some junior varsity ball last year,” Marsh said. “He consistently has worked hard to get to where he is today. We have a tremendous amount of trust in him. He’s an excellent young man who we’re privileged to have on our team.”

With less than 30 seconds remaining until halftime, the Red Raiders got a 36-yard gallop from Maroszek to set up Will Steeno’s made 39-yard field goal to make it 10-0 at the break.

“I was able to talk to former Seymour Head Coach Bill Collar (recently),” Marsh said. “He mentioned how important special teams are. Those three points made a huge difference in the outcome of the game. (Steeno) competed in a sectional soccer game (Oct. 28), and he came out and kicked it right through the uprights to give us a bit of a cushion.”

Slinger came out of the second-half gates on fire, going 80 yards on 11 plays after Jack Murray caught a 20-yard touchdown reception to cut Pulaski’s lead to 10-7 after the extra point with 3:13 left in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter featured as much excitement as one can have without any scoring.

With about nine minutes remaining, the Red Raiders engaged in a drive that started at its 28 and stalled at Slinger’s 1-foot line after the sideline official ruled Cole’s knee touched the ground before the ball crossed the goal line on a fourth-down play.

After a quick stop and big punt return by Mason Wells, Pulaski again tried to increase its lead, but Steeno’s 33-yard field-goal attempt missed wide left, setting up a final dramatic drive for the Owls.

On the final drive, Hora used his legs and completions to Blake Durbin and Murray to keep Slinger’s postseason chances alive.

A sack by Pulaski’s Aaron Hawpetoss interrupted the Owls’ momentum.

A late heave by Hora with no time remaining in the game didn’t find its mark.

Pulaski advanced to Level 3 and will face No. 4 Hartford, which defeated No. 1 De Pere 43-42 in overtime, Friday, Nov. 5.

“At this point of the season, it’s getting guys healthy,” Marsh said. “We get another week of football. If you have your guys out there, you have a chance to win.”

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