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Pulaski defeats De Pere in close game

By Mara Allen

Contributing Writer

Elliott Karcz (3) intercepts De Pere QB Easton Arendt’s attempted touchdown pass. Mara Allen photos

The Pulaski Red Raiders defeated the De Pere Redbirds 35-30 at home in an hard-fought FRCC-North Conference battle to record their first win of the season. 

“That was an exciting Friday night football game,” Pulaski Head Coach Jerad Marsh said. “That’s what people come to see.” 

Both teams entered the contest 0-2, desperately needing a win after dropping tough non-conference games to start the year.  

De Pere received the first half kickoff and found themselves in scoring position quickly after sophomore Caden Schmapers broke off for a 47-yard run. 

With less than three minutes gone by in the opening quarter, De Pere quarterback Easton Arendt found receiver Hayden May for a six yard touchdown, putting the Redbirds up 6-0.

Pulaski marched down the field on their first offensive possession. 

Just as it looked like the drive might stall, the Red Raiders gained 22 yards on a crucial fourth-and-seven conversion. 

Pulaski quarterback Ethan Schmidt found Ethan Heston on a 5-yard touchdown pass to put the Red Raiders on the board. The PAT attempt was good, giving the home team a 7-6 lead. 

Pulaski’s Bryce Wotruba picked off Arendt on the next possession, but the Red Raiders failed to turn the turnover into points, missing a 25-yard field goal. 

Another big play for the Redbirds — this time a 52-yard completion from Arendt to May — set De Pere up in scoring position. 

Arendt eventually took it into the endzone himself on a 6-yard TD run to take back the lead, 12-7. 

After forcing a Pulaski punt, De Pere got the ball back with just over three minutes to go in the first half.

Arendt led his offense down the field, and the quarterback found May in the corner of the endzone for their second touchdown connection of the night, this one good for 30 yards, extending De Pere’s lead to 18-7. 

Pulaski had an opportunity to put points on the board before the half, but the Redbird defense forced a three-and-out. 

All the momentum seemed to be in De Pere’s favor. 

With 50 seconds remaining in the first half, Arendt hit wide receiver Mason Sequin for a 52-yard gain, giving the Redbirds a first and goal at the Pulaski four-yard line. 

The Redbirds were knocking on the doors of heading into halftime with a three possession lead, but Wotruba picked off Arendt for the second time of the night. 

De Pere took an 18-7 lead into the break. 

De Pere QB Eason Arendt (2) fights for the endzone.

Despite Schmidt leaving the game due to injury — forcing backup QB Logan Schultz to take Pulaski’s snaps — the Red Raiders dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Redbirds 21-0. 

Spencer Hakes started the second half’s scoring on a 55-yard rushing touchdown. 

A quick three-and-out from De Pere gave Pulaski the ball back.

Schultz marched the Red Raiders down the field, eventually taking a 2-yard run in for a touchdown to give his team a 21-18 lead after the extra point was good. 

Another De Pere punt put the ball back in Shultz’s hands.

This time, he ripped off a 41-yard touchdown run, extending Pulaski’s lead, 28-18. 

Arendt and De Pere finally moved the ball down the field, but just as the offense seemed to get something going, Pulaski picked off Arendt for the third time. 

On the very next play, the Red Raiders fumbled, giving De Pere the ball back at the Pulaski 9-yard line. 

De Pere capitalized, with Arendt finding Noah Fischer for a 6-yard touchdown. 

With just over seven minutes to play, Pulaski held a 28-24 lead. 

Schultz again took matters into his own hands, extending Pulaski’s lead to two scores, 35-27, on a 57-yard touchdown run, his third rushing TD of the night.  

“He manned up; he put the team on his back,” Marsh said of Schultz’s performance.

De Pere scored one last time with 5 minutes left in the game when Arendt again found May in the endzone. 

The 27-yard score kept the Redbirds alive, tightening the score to 35-30.

De Pere needed to force a stop to get the ball back, but Pulaski’s run game moved the chains and ran out the clock to end the game, giving the Red Raiders the victory. 

Though sitting at 0-3 was not the way the Redbirds envisioned the season starting, Head Coach Ben Strickland is confident his team will turn things around. “We have to learn from it and move forward,” he said. “There’s a lot left out in front of us, so we can either come together or let it tear us apart, and I’m confident this group will come together and keep battling.”

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