The No. 14 University of Wisconsin-Platteville football continued its offensive fireworks with three first quarter touchdowns en route to a 40-10 win over host University of Wisconsin-La Crosse on Saturday.
Coming into the game, the Pioneers had scored its opponents by a 70 to 7 margin in the first 15 minutes of the game. Despite giving up a touchdown on the first drive of the game, UW-Platteville rallied behind quarterback Bryce Corrigan, who was making his second collegiate start, scoring a touchdown on its first three drives.
The sophomore from Plainfield, Illinois had one of the most accurate passing days in school history as he completed 37 of 43 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns. The 37 completions are the fifth most in program history in a single game. His favorite target on the afternoon was junior Paul Reit, who tied a WIAC single-game record and set a new UW-Platteville school record with 18 receptions to go along with 167 yards and two touchdowns. Corrigan completed his first 15 passes to start the afternoon.
Plus, Trevor Whitehead caught five passes for 105 yards as the Pioneers had a second 100-yard receiver for the first time since Aunton Terry (103) and Nick Grosso (109) did so against UW-Whitewater in the 2009 season finale. Senior Hank McIvor scored two touchdowns on the ground to go along with 62 yards on 15 carries in the win.
Defensively, UW-Platteville held UW-La Crosse to just 65 yards on the ground and did not allow them to complete a third down in the win. In addition, the Pioneers registered five sacks with Bronzun Kyles picking up a pair. Plus, Dave Daino had eight tackles including a forced fumble in the first quarter that set the tone. The win improves the No. 14 Pioneers to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the WIAC.
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (2-3, 1-1 WIAC) took the opening kickoff down the field for a quick 7-0 lead on the Pioneers. However, Corrigan engineered a seven play, 65-yard drive to tie the score. On the drive, Hank McIvor picked up a key first down on third down to extend the drive and on the next play, Corrigan completed a 35-yard pass to Whitehead to set up first and goal. Then, Corrigan found Reit for the third time on the drive for a nine-yard touchdown pass to tie the game.
With the game tied at 7, the Pioneer defense led by senior Dave Daino forced an Eagles fumble and an alert Jacob Zilbar recovered to give the UW-Platteville offense a short field to operate. Three plays later, on a 3rd and 5, McIvor ran it in from 24 yards out to put the Pioneers up 13-7 as the point-after attempt was blocked. Following a UW-La Crosse punt, Corrigan started to heat up as he completed five-straight passes, marching the Pioneers down the field. After the pass had spread the Eagles defense, again, McIvor broke free for his second touchdown of the afternoon, this time from 13 yards out. A successful point-after attempt by the Pioneers put UW-Platteville ahead 20-7 just a little under 15 minutes into the contest.
UW-La Crosse took the first drive of the second quarter down to the Pioneer six-yard line. However, the UW-Platteville defense kept them out of the endzone and forced a field goal that cut the lead to 20-10. Corrigan and the Pioneers would score another touchdown before the half. Early in the drive, he found Reit for a seven-yard completion to extend the drive. Plus, he would complete five-straight passes to move the ball down to the UW-La Crosse 7. The Pioneers looked to run it again for a third time but after a UW-La Crosse penalty, Corrigan found an open Ryley Bailey that put UW-Platteville up 27-10.
Both teams failed to score on their first drives of the third quarter. However, that did not phase the Pioneers. On the second drive of the half, a pass interference call on UW-La Crosse extended the drive for UW-Platteville. Then, Corrigan completed a 12-yard pass to Bailey and a nine-yard pass to Reit to move into Eagles territory. Again, he found Whitehead for a big gain, this time it was for 37 yards to move into 1st and goal. Then, the Pioneers punched it in with its ground game as senior Travis Nelson scored from three yards out to extend the 33-10 as UW-Platteville missed the point-after attempt.
A stingy Pioneer defense held UW-La Crosse to just one first down in the third quarter as the offense melted the clock. Holding a 33-10 lead, late in the third quarter and early into the fourth, Corrigan and Reit worked together to move the Pioneers down the field. After a first down completion to Bailey, the pass and catch combo completed seven plays culminating with an 18-yard touchdown reception on a 3rd and 12 situation early in the 4th quarter. A Zach Litchfield point-after attempt put the lead at 40-10.
Next up for the Pioneers is a trip to No. 18 UW-Oshkosh on Saturday, Oct. 13 at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium as kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.