Worth the wait, #24 Pioneers defeat #20 UW-La Crosse 38-20

Worth the wait, #24 Pioneers defeat #20 UW-La Crosse 38-20

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin-Platteville football team defeated the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 38-20 Saturday after a two-and half-hour lightning delay in Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium. The Pioneers scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to secure the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) opener.

The Pioneers (4-0 overall, 1-0 WIAC) entered the game ranked 24th in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll and was receiving votes in the D3football.com rankings while UW-La Crosse entered 20th in the AFCA and 16th in the D3football.com poll.

The two teams competed in heavy rain and strong winds for much of the game where UW-Platteville intercepted the Eagles six times and held the Eagles scoreless in the second half. This included five interceptions in the second half with four in the fourth quarter and in three straight UW-La Crosse possessions. Six interceptions in one game sits second in program history and is also second-most in a game by a UW-La Crosse quarter back.

Overall, the Pioneers totaled 258 yards passing and 97 yards rushing with UW-La Crosse holding the 379-355 yards advantage in total offense.

Junior Colin Schuetz passed 22-for-38 for 321 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Donald Allender led the Pioneers with 123 yards off three receptions which included a 90-yard touchdown catch.

Senior Tyler Knigge had a team high five receptions for 81 yards and touchdown while senior running back Wyatt Thompson combined 14 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown.

Overall, the Pioneer defense totaled six interceptions for return of 78 yards, four sacks for a loss of 29 yards, eight tackles for a loss of 42 yards, one fumble forced, and six pass break-ups.

Senior Tyler Reinhardt had a team high 11 tackles, one interception, one sack, and two tackles for loss of 13 yards. Senior Luke Johnson recorded two of the interceptions for a return of seven yards in addition to nine tackles. Senior Walter Ollie intercepted Evan Lewandowski for a 39-yard return and touchdown.

Freshman Andrew Schweigert went five-for-five on extra points and was successful in the lone field goal attempt.

The Eagles took a 7-0 lead as they combined 10 plays for 80 yards which concluded with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Lewandowski to Joey Stuzman with 2:26 left in the first quarter.

The Pioneers tied up the game the next drive with Schuetz finding junior Bo Babich for a 35-yard touchdown pass as UW-Platteville went 70 yards in eight plays with 13:05 remaining in the first half. The tie was short lived as Lewandowski connected with Cameron Sorenson for a 46-yard touchdown pass the first play of the next Eagles possession, but a failed extra point attempt left the score 13-7 with 12:49 remaining in the half. UW-La Crosse extended its lead to 20-7 with a six-yard Lewandowski rush and  touchdown.

Junior Josh Wiseman snagged the first Pioneer interception at the 5:00 mark and had a 43-yard return to the Eagles' 15-yardline. Schuetz found Knigge three plays later for a 15-yard touchdown pass. The Pioneers looked to take the lead with 00:04 left in the half, but Allender's pass to Babich was ruled out of bounds and the Pioneers headed into halftime trailing 20-14.

UW-La Crosse kicked off to start the second half and placed the Pioneers on the UW-Platteville 10-yardline after a block in the back penalty against the Pioneers. Schuetz found Allender after the first snap of the half for a 90-yard touchdown catch and the 21-20 lead. Ollie intercepted Lewandowski four plays later and had a 39-yard return all the way for another Pioneer touchdown.

Schweigert's 33-yard field goal was good and the Pioneers extended their lead to 31-20 with 00:15 left in the third quarter.

Johnson intercepted Lewandowski and placed the Pioneers on the 50 yardline with 11:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. Thompson broke through the very next play for a 50-yard carry for a touchdown and the Pioneers led 38-20 with 11:07 left in the game.

The Pioneers went on to intercept Lewandowski the next three UW-La Crosse possesions as he was picked off by sophomore Travis Klassy, Reinhardt, and Johnson once again in the UW-Platteville endzone on 1st and goal with 1:56 remaining.

The Pioneers will return to action next Saturday when they travel to #3 UW-Whitewater and Perkins Stadium for the George Chryst Memorial Bowl on Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.