November 5, 2021 – Hartford, WI – A cold and windy night, with a trip to the WIAA D2 sectional final was on the line for No. 4 Hartford and No. 3 Pulaski on Friday night; it was just one more step away from the state championship hanging in the balance.
Pulaski rode the wave of the home crowd for early momentum when senior Aaron Maroszek scored a 14-yard touchdown run just over halfway into the first quarter.
The Orioles would get on the board in the waning seconds of the first quarter, when junior quarterback Austin Kutz connected with senior AJ Pepin for a 17-yard touchdown pass. Just a few minutes later, Pulaski botched a snap on a punt which gave Hartford the ball on Pulaski’s 29-yard line.
After a driving effort following the punt miscue, with 5:26 left in the second quarter, Pepin scored on a 1-yard run.
Hartford’s defense then stepped up, recovering a fumble on the Pulaski 26-yard line.
After some struggling, Hartford’s offense capitalized on the turnover, as on fourth down and with 1:54 left in the half, Kutz threw an amazing 24-yard touchdown pass to junior Bly Bielmeier.
The Orioles defense even managed to get another fumble recovery just 31 seconds after the touchdown. However, Kutz was intercepted by Pulaski junior Mason Wells in the second to last play before halftime. Hartford went into halftime up 21-7. After stopping Pulaski’s opening possession of the second half, Hartford found the end zone once again, this time with Pepin scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run. The Orioles would increase its lead when Kutz scored on a 1-yard touchdown with 1:44 left in the third quarter, making it 35-7 Hartford.
However, Pulaski was not simply going to quietly into the night; with 43 seconds left in the third quarter, junior running back Maverick Cole threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to junior Jacob Doxtater on a trick play.
Pulaski’s defense would manage to make short work of Hartford’s offense on the possession and would score off a 23-yard touchdown run by Maroszek with 9:43 left in the game.
The very next play, Pulaski made it a one-score game as Maroszek ran for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:22 left to play.
The Red Raiders attempted an onside kick, which they recovered, only for the referees to call that a player had illegally touched the ball; that surprised many and after awarding the ball to Hartford it ran out the clock for a 35-28 win.
Kutz spoke postgame about how he was emotionally amped coming into the game after last week’s upset win at De Pere.
Kutz and his teammates were also driven even during the lean times for the offense simply to “make history.”
“We really want to make state and we are doing it for our seniors,” he said.
Kutz thanked his teammates for driving to succeed, while also giving a special nod to his offensive line. “They protect me and I always want give them my all for having my back,” he said.
Hartford will next play against No. 1 Waunakee at Waukesha West on Friday, November 12 with a 7 p.m. kickoff. The winner of that game goes to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison to meet the winner of the No. 1 Homestead and No. 6 Kettle Moraine matchup in the final battle for the Division 2 State championship.