PULASKI — The Chi-Hi football didn't travel three hours to play for a tie.
The eighth-seeded Cardinals went for the win, but had trouble with the exchange on a 2-point conversion run attempt as Pulaski survived to edge the Cardinals 35-34 on Friday evening in a Division 2 first round playoff matchup.
The Cardinals (3-7) went punch for punch with the top-seeded Red Raiders (9-1), leading 21-14 at halftime and trailing by no more than seven points throughout the contest. Tyler Bohland brought Chi-Hi to within one on a 6-yard touchdown run with one minute and 42 seconds to go. Chi-Hi opted to go for the 2-point attempt and the lead but a fumble on the attempt kept them from taking the lead.
Bohland finished with 110 rushing yards and two touchdown runs while Ben Steinmetz added 92 rushing yards and two rushing scores of his own. Bohde Torkelson ran for 53 yards and Hayden Goodman had a rushing score as the Cardinals ran for a season-high 265 yards and five scores.
JoJo O'Leary's 9-yard scoring run with 6:27 left put Pulaski in front for good. Ben Redlin had a game-high 147 rushing yards and two touchdowns with O'Leary scoring three touchdowns on his 145 rushing yards.
Two touchdown runs of five yards from Steinmetz and a 12-yard scoring run from Goodman helped the Cardinals take a 21-14 lead into halftime. Bohland answered O'Leary's second touchdown of the game with a 60-yard score to put Chi-Hi ahead 28-21 with 3:03 left in the third. Redlin found the end zone from 20 yards out a few minutes later to even the game with 1:21 to go in the third.
Pulaski advances to host Superior in the second round after the fourth-seeded Spartans prevailed over fifth-seeded Marshfield 44-37.
"If you followed us from game one to game ten, we were climbing a mountain," Chi-Hi coach Chuck Raykovich said in a postgame interview with WOGO. "We were closer to the peak than we were at game one. I'm very, very, very, very proud of the kids."
Chi-Hi opened the season with a 1-6 record before victories over Eau Claire North and Hudson helped the Cardinals earn a playoff berth for the second year in a row and for the fourth time in five seasons.
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"I can't say enough about them," Raykovich said. "They're just upright people. They're great kids, great leaders. They're the best, they're the best."
Eau Claire Regis 36, Lake Holcombe/Cornell 8
At Eau Claire, the unbeaten Ramblers (10-0) beat the Knights (5-5) in a Division 6 playoff opener.
The Ramblers jumped out to a 36-0 halftime lead and ran for 169 yards in the victory. The Knights got one the scoreboard with a safety in the fourth quarter before Kaden Kinney found the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run. Aden Story finished with 30 rushing yards while Kinney added 25 for Lake Holcombe/Cornell.
Josh Jones caught three passes for 39 yards.
Top-seeded Eau Claire Regis moves on to host Colby next week in the second round. The fifth-seeded Hornets won at fourth-seeded Cumberland 35-14.
Gilman 24, Pittsville 6
At Gilman, the third-seeded Pirates earned a Division 7 playoff victory over the sixth-seeded Panthers.
Gilman (8-2) moves on to play at second-seeded Almond-Bancroft next week. Almond-Bancroft defeated Athens 30-7.