Undefeated teams go head-to-head

UW-Platteville Pioneers lose against arch rival UW-Whitewater Warhawks


Submitted Photo

Pioneer women created signs to showcase at the UW-Platteville versus UW-Whitewater football game on Oct. 1. Students were to wear orange attire to support the undefeated Pioneers.

It was the matchup that we were all waiting for: #2 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater vs #8 UW-Platteville. Although this was a regular season matchup of conference opponents, it had the feeling of a national championship game. However, both teams were undefeated. The atmosphere at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium was electrifying. The home crowd showed up in record capacity. The suspension building up to this game could be compared to that of a modern horror film. The winner takes home the bragging rights, the upper hand in the conference and puts a top tier victory on their playoff resume.

The game started with a heated defensive battle with both teams forcing punts early on. But special teams would prove to be the true hero early when Whitewater experienced a high snap on their second drive, which put the ball over the punter’s head and resulted in amazing field position for the Pioneers. This lead to the first points of the game. Those points coming from the impressive arm of senior quarterback Tom Kelley, who connected with fellow senior Patrick Sheehan for a 25-yard touchdown. It put the Pioneers on top, 7 – 0. Those 25 yards were just a fraction of the 435 yards that Kelly would throw throughout the game.

The momentum began to quickly shift as the Warhawks would respond with 17 unanswered points coming via two long pass plays and a 48-yard field goal. With all the momentum being in Whitewater’s favor, the Pioneers had to do something quickly. Once again, Kelley had the answer by scoring on a 4-yard scramble and plowing through defenders to cross the goal line with just over a minute left in the first half. That run would be the most impressive one the Pioneers would have on the ground as they were held to -15 yards rushing in the game. Most teams are not be successful when they cannot balance the run and the pass, but the Pioneers found a way.

Another defensive battle ensued in the third quarter where the only points put on the board came from the legs of Samuel Herkert, who had just missed a 37-yard field goal in the first half, when he connected for a 22-yarder. It tied the game as the Pioneers entered the fourth quarter.

Whitewater answered quickly with a field goal of their own, taking a 20 – 17 lead. Four minutes later, Kelley connected with receiver Dan Arnold for a 14-yard touchdown. Arnold had made many spectacular plays throughout the game, including an impressive catch over the back of a defender while falling out of bounds. On the ensuing Whitewater drive, the Pioneers forced many third-down situations. Whitewater converted several times and took six and half minutes to score, resulting in a 27 – 24 lead. They would quickly tack on a field goal after forcing a fumble on a sack. Due to several Pioneer penalties in their final drive, the Warhawks would hold on to win the game by a final score of 30 – 24. The Pioneers will have a bye week before facing off against UW-River Falls during homecoming on Oct. 15.