University of Wisconsin-Platteville quarterback John Kelly came off the bench to throw four touchdown passes in a 52-35 win over Dubuque in the home opener for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers (2-0) outgained the neighborhood rival, 504 to 484 in the win including a decisive 305 to 93 advantage on the ground. Kelly came off the bench midway through the first quarter in relief of starter Nick Anderson and immediately connected with Ryley Bailey for a seven-yard touchdown pass to put the home team up 7-0.
Kelly ended the day completing 23 of 30 passes and 262 yards and four touchdown passes, which tied his career high. He also ran the ball eight times for 37 yards and a touchdown.
The Spartans (1-1) picked up 391 yards passing from Wyatt Hanus, who completed 28 of 42 passes for 391 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target of the afternoon was Sean Anderson, who caught 13 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown.
The game was tied 7-7 when the Pioneers offense started to click. Kelly found the endzone on a one yard plunge on the Pioneers fourth drive of the contest, and after a defensive stop, Kelly hooked up with junior receiver Aaron Loferski for a seven-yard touchdown.
Late in the first half, Pioneer junior kicker Zach Litchfield booted a 44-yard field goal, the second longest of his career, to give the home team a 24-7 lead going into the halftime break. After two games, the Pioneers are outscoring opponents 73-7 in the first half.
Kelly carried the momentum into the second half, completing a 47-yard pass to Trevor Whitehead for a score. Running back Hank McIvor added a score of his own on a 43-yard scurry early in the third quarter.
Late in the third, Kelly found Ryley Bailey across the middle of the end zone for a 23-yard score, Bailey's second touchdown reception of the day. The Pioneers entered the fourth quarter with a 45-14 lead.
Dubuque would not go away quietly however. The Spartans racked up 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, bringing the score to 45-35, moving the ball down the field with an efficient passing attack from Hanus.
Lee Vlasak, who led the team with 86 yards on the ground, put the Spartans' comeback bid to rest with a 34-yard rush down the sideline, giving the Pioneers the lead at 52-35.
With the win, UW-Platteville extends it record against Dubuque to 14-0-2 all-time advantage in the "Battle of the Bridge" – sponsored by Dairy Queen – which relates back to the tag given the game when the series was renewed in 2005.
The Pioneers head into their bye week before returning to action Sept. 20 in a non-conference game against University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium.
- Post-game interview with John Kelly