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Fourth-quarter comeback by Pulaski falls short

By Murray Gleffe

PULASKI – With a little more than a quarter remaining and trailing by 28 points, the Pulaski football team rallied with three touchdowns.

However, it wasn’t enough, as No. 4-seeded Hartford held on to defeat No. 3 Pulaski 35-28 in a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2, Level 3 game Nov. 5 at Saputo Stadium.

“Give credit to Hartford,” Pulaski Head Coach Jerad Marsh said. “They jumped on us early and held their composure late. We had a rough first half. To see the guys believe and regroup at halftime was great. The leadership of the seniors and the rest of the guys on the field came through in the final quarter.”

The Orioles led 21-7 at halftime and 35-7 late in the third quarter.

AJ Pepin led Hartford with more than 110 yards on the ground.

Orioles Quarterback Austin Kutz had five completions for 74 yards and two touchdowns.

Aaron Maroszek rushed for 115 yards and three touchdowns for the Red Raiders in defeat.

After stopping Hartford to start the game, Pulaski took its opening drive 51 yards, capped off by a 14-yard touchdown run by Maroszek for a 7-0 lead after the extra point.

With 4 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, Hartford answered with a Kutz-to-Pepin 17-yard pitch-and-catch to even the game at 7-7 after the extra point.

The tide seemed to turn early in the second quarter after Pulaski punter Aaron Hawpetoss had to cover up a bad snap inside his 30-yard line.

The Orioles ran 10 plays (all of which were on the ground) and converted on fourth-and-1 when Pepin scored from a yard out for a 14-7 lead after the extra point.

Seconds later, the Red Raiders fumbled.

Hartford wasted little time when Kutz connected with Bly Bielmeier from 24 yards out for a 21-7 lead after the extra point heading into halftime.

“We didn’t give our defense great field possession to work with for much of the game,” Marsh said. “We had several turnovers that put us in a bind.”

The start of the second half wasn’t any kinder to Pulaski, as its first couple of possessions resulted in three-and-outs.

The Orioles, meanwhile, looked like a well-oiled machine – going 50 and 63 yards on their first two drives of the second half to take a 35-7 lead (after the successful extra points) near the end of the third quarter.

“There might have been a wrinkle (the Orioles) were able to take advantage of with their running game,” Marsh said. “I’ll have to look at the film. (Hartford) is a talented group, and it’s hard to stop them when they get the momentum going.”

From there, the Red Raiders opened the playbook, and their defense clamped down on Hartford’s rushing attack.

After a big kickoff return, Pulaski used some razzle-dazzle, as quarterback Derek Block flipped the ball to running back Maverick Cole, who in turn threw it to Jacob Doxtater in the end zone for a 25-yard score.

After the extra point, the Red Raiders trailed 35-14.

In the final quarter, the Pulaski defense got gritty, forcing two punts and blocking another.

The Red Raiders took advantage, as Maroszek’s running paid off, with touchdown runs of 23 and 21 yards to cut the lead to 35-28 after the made extra points with 1:22 left.

“Everybody kept their head up, and us seniors made sure we played until the clock hit zero,” Pulaski Linebacker Max Burdette said. “We kept getting the stops we needed in the final quarter. We almost brought it all the way back.”

The Red Raiders appeared to recover the ensuing onside kick but were whistled for illegal touching.

Hartford then ran out the clock, ending the game and Pulaski’s season.

“This group has left an outstanding legacy to our football program,” Marsh said. “These are the groups you can build off. They put their heart and soul into every game. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

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