Bay Port wins battle of unbeatens
By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO — In a battle of unbeaten teams, the Bay Port defense rose to the occasion.
Allowing only 175 yards of total offense – including eight in the first half – the Pirates turned back Pulaski 23-7 in Fox River Classic Conference action last night at Bay Port High School.
The Pirates, ranked No. 4 in Division 1 in the latest Wissports.net Coaches Poll, and Pulaski, ranked No. 3 in Division 2, both came into the highly-anticipated matchup with identical 3-0 records.
“Our coaching staff did a great job on both sides of the football,” Bay Port coach Gary Westerman said. “Our kids came to play and made great plays in front of a huge crowd.”
The bleachers on both sides of the field were filled to capacity.
Westerman said he was impressed by his team’s defense.
“They played great,” he said. “They got dented a little bit early on but came back strong. Special teams also played great by recovering an onside kick. Hats off to Pulaski – they’ll win lots of football games this season. That’s a good football team.”
Nursing a 23-0 lead late in the game, the Pirates surrendered a 50-yard touchdown pass from Logan Shultz to Zachary Przybylski to end the shutout.
“I wish we could have gotten the shutout, but we played well,” Bay Port defensive back AJ Courchaine said. “We played downfield football and were physical. We practiced for it all week and executed the game plan.”
Pirates quarterback Cole Bensen accounted for three scores – two rushing and one passing.
Bay Port put together a 17-play drive that began late in the first quarter and culminated with a 1-yard plunge from Bensen four minutes into the second quarter.
The drive covered 89 yards and was aided by a pass interference penalty on a third-and-11 play.
After a 5-yard punt on Pulaski’s next possession, the Pirates were back in the end zone five plays later on another Bensen score – this time, from five yards out.
Owen Bellisle’s extra point made it 14-0 with 2:37 showing on the second-quarter clock.
Bellisle’s 44-yard field goal attempt with two seconds remaining before halftime sailed wide left to keep the lead at 14.
Bensen hit Brett Shipley on a 24-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter for another score before a safety on a bad snap on a Pulaski punt ended Bay Port’s scoring.
“I’m glad we won, but we made some bad mental mistakes early in the game on the offensive line – mistakes people in the stands wouldn’t see,” Westerman said. “Our kids take hard coaching, and we coach them hard.”
The margin of victory could have been bigger, but the Pirates had two more touchdowns called back because of penalties.
“We’ve got to be better,” Westerman said. “We’ve had six touchdowns called back this season on penalties in only four games.”
As a team, Bay Port rushed for 209 yards – led by Bensen’s 93 yards on 24 carries.
Blake Buchinger added 66 yards on 14 carries, while Carter Kallies chipped in 50 yards rushing.
Bensen was 5-of-11 passing for 45 yards.
The Red Raiders were led by Maverick Cole’s 55 yards on 11 carries.