(WFRV) – In one of the wildest finishes in WIAA playoff history, De Pere fell just short of its 10th straight win, falling 43-42 in overtime to Hartford.
In a back-and-forth second half, Hartford scored and added a two-point conversion in the final minute of the third quarter to take a 29-22 lead on the Redbirds.
But De Pere had an answer. Michael Alexander plunged up the middle for a two-yard score to tie the game at 29 with 5:29 on the game clock.
The Orioles moved the ball down the field but were stymied near midfield. However, on a fourth-and-5 play, Hartford attempted a pass and converted. The Orioles punched it in with a touchdown by Quinten Hornada, taking a 36-29 lead with less than 40 seconds on the game clock.
De Pere’s first chances were stymied by Hartford’s defense, but a penalty moved the Redbirds to midfield with time winding down. With five seconds remaining, Gabe Herman attempted a mid-level pass to Grant Hohol that fell to the turf as time expired.
But the officials halted the Hartford celebration with a penalty for pass interference, giving De Pere one more opportunity – an untimed down from the Hartford 37-yard line.
Herman rolled to his right and lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone that bounced on the red turf near the back line – but again, a pass interference penalty, this time in the end zone.
The officials moved the ball up to the 22-yard line to give De Pere yet another untimed down. This time, Herman rolled out of the pocket and threw a dart to Hohol near the eight-yard line – and then, the potential play of the year ensued.
After the catch, Hohol was hit immediately by two Hartford defenders and pitched the ball back to Jack May, who stiff armed a defensive back to rumble into the end zone on the hook and ladder. Jack Jorgensen hit the extra point to send the game to overtime tied at 36.
De Pere started on defense, but on the first possession of OT, the Orioles executed a fourth-and-goal from the half-yard line to take the lead.
The Redbirds wasted no time responding. Herman swept around left edge on a quarterback keeper, racing 25 yards to the end zone to pull De Pere within 43-42. Sensing momentum, head coach Chad Michalkiewicz opted to go for two and a playoff win.
From the three-yard line, De Pere tried a straight handoff to Michael Alexander, but after a scrum at the goal line, officials ruled Alexander down just short of the end zone, sparking boos from the home crowd. De Pere’s season ended a half yard short of Level 3 in a wild 43-42 overtime result.
Here’s a look at the rest of Friday’s action:
Appleton North 28, Neenah 7: Cal Martine scored three touchdowns, Brock Salm recovered a fumble, and Appleton North once again flexed its muscles on defense to knock out a conference opponent. The Lightning scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away and set up a date with Kimberly in Level 3.
Kimberly 35, Chippewa Falls 13: Kimberly will face Appleton North in a Level 3 battle next week.
Bay Port 49, Marquette University HS 14: Bay Port executed a fourth down conversion to perfection on the first drive, getting a touchdown on a 35-yard Cole Bensen run up the middle. The Pirates would add a touchdown connection between Bensen and Sam Barry, kicking off a huge second quarter that would propel Bay Port to the 35-point win. The Pirates will hit the road to face top-seeded Franklin in Level 3.
Sun Prairie 35, Fond du Lac 20
Pulaski 10, Slinger 7: The Red Raiders built a 10-point halftime lead and held on for dear life, getting key defensive stops from Aaron Hawpetoss and others and thwarting a potential game-winning drive from Slinger in the fourth quarter. Pulaski will play Hartford in Level 2.