Football owns second half in 59-35 win

Senior+Bronzun+Kyles+%2890%29+and+freshman+Alex+Robinson+%2895%29+combine+for+a+first-quarter+sack+Oct.+26.

Jeremy Williamson

Senior Bronzun Kyles (90) and freshman Alex Robinson (95) combine for a first-quarter sack Oct. 26.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville offense showed once again that it can win a shootout on Oct. 26, winning a wild one 59-28 over the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

 

With the win, the Pioneer football team (7-0, 4-0 WIAC) topped 500 yards of total offense for the second time this season, and reached the 7-0 mark for the first time as a program since 1970.

 

“It’s great to be 7-0,” Pioneer head coach Mike Emendorfer said. “In the end, that’s what matters. We made some mistakes; it wasn’t the prettiest game but we won, and we’re happy about that.”

 

Some of those mistakes included two interceptions thrown by senior quarterback John Kelly.

 

“Both of those were on me,” Kelly said. “It was my footwork and not getting the ball out to a point where the receiver can make a play on it. But it’s something we’ll work on.”

 

Despite the mistakes, the Chicago native threw five touchdown passes, three of which went to junior receiver Trevor Whitehead, which tied a university record.

 

“That’s pretty neat,” Whitehead said. “But anyone else on the team could do what I did today. All across the board, us receivers were finding holes in the defense.”

 

While the final score indicates the Pioneers ran away with the game, the Blue Devils were able to match blows with the Pioneers for most of the afternoon.

 

Trailing 21-14 in the second quarter, the Blue Devils marched down the field and were on the Pioneer five-yard line when UW-Stout quarterback Hank Kujak was picked off by Pioneer junior Rob Austin just inside the end zone, and Austin returned it to the Blue Devil 15-yard line.

 

“Rob’s interception was huge,” Emendorfer said. “That was a 14-point turnaround in that situation. Instead of them coming down and scoring, we get the ball and score, and I think that got the momentum in our favor.”

 

Austin said he felt the importance of that moment in the game.

 

“If they would have scored, it would’ve put a bigger load on the offense, so I knew someone needed to make a play,” Austin said. “Fortunately, I was able to get that interception.”

 

With a 28-14 lead after halftime, the Pioneers extended it on the first drive of the third quarter, moving the ball down the field in six plays, capped off by an eight-yard connection from Kelly to Whitehead.

 

After the defense forced a Blue Devil punt, the offense scored on a quick, five-play drive, finished by an 18-yard run from senior running back Lee Vlasak, his third score of the contest.

 

With the game seemingly out of reach at 42-14, the Pioneers’ defense seemed to ease off the gas pedal, which allowed UW-Stout to score a touchdown in 54 seconds.

 

The Pioneers answered with a two-yard touchdown run from junior running back Andy Puccini, putting the score at 49-21.

 

Yet again, the Blue Devils refused to go away, scoring touchdowns on back-to-back drives, which halved UW-Platteville’s lead.

 

The Pioneers righted the ship on offense, as senior kicker Zach Litchfield hit an 18-yard field goal and then Kelly found senior receiver Ryley Bailey on the last meaningful drive of the game to put the score at 59-35.

 

Kelly finished the day with 330 yards on 28 completions, while Bailey had eight catches for 108 yards and Whitehead hauled in six balls for 47 yards.

 

Next week, the Pioneers head to Whitewater to face off against undefeated rival University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Warhawks are coming off a hard-fought 17-14 win over University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (6-1, 3-1 WIAC).

 

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.