PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Senior John Kelly threw seven touchdown passes leading the University of Wisconsin-Platteville football team past UW-Eau Claire, 49-27, on Saturday at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium on the Pioneers' annual Homecoming game.
Kelly was an astounding 32-39 for 442 yards, fourth most in school history and seven touchdowns, tying Bryce Corrigan's record breaking performance last year versus UW-Stout. The Pioneers had two wide recievers with 100-yard game, senior Ryley Bailey and junior Trevor Whitehead. Bailey caught 10 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, while Whitehead caught five for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Quinn Buschbacher hauled in seven passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Lee Vlasak rushed for 97 yards and caught three passes for 33 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively the Pioneers had a field day on the Blugolds with eight sacks and 12 tackles for a loss. Junior inside linebacker Jacob Zilbar led the team with 13 tackles, followed by sophomore outside linebacker Andrew Belken, who tallied two sacks, two and half tackles for a loss for a total of nine stops. Sophomore Alex Johnson led the front seven with three and a half sacks for five total tackles.
On the Pioneers' first possession of the game, Kelly conducted a nine play 67-yard drive which resulted in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Buschbacher. The Blugolds came back and milked seven minutes off the clock in a 70-yard touchdown drive. On the point after, the Pioneers' Rob Austin blocked the kick to keep UW-Platteville ahead 7-6.
With just 1:44 left in the first half, UWEC's Scott Burzynski blasted a 60-yard punt which caused Whitehead to miss handle the return and gave the Blugolds the ball back. UW-Eau Claire capitalized on the Pioneer miscue, scoring with eight seconds left in the half, 20-14, and gave the UW-Platteville its first deficit at halftime of the season.
The Pioneers made some great halftime adjustments. UW-Platteville got the ball to start the half and only took four plays for the Pioneers to regain the lead, 21-20. On the ensuing kickoff, UWEC's Clint Larsen scored the Blugolds' final touchdown of the game on a 98-yard kickoff return. The Pioneer offensive wasn't phased by the Blugold touchdown and responded 1:47 later with a four play 51-yard touchdown drive.
The Pioneers made it a 35-27 game early in the fourth-quarter and a big three and out by the Pioneer defense the very next Blugold possession put UW-Platteville's offense in great field position Kelly then connected with Buschbacher for the second time of the game giving UW-Platteville a 42-27. The Blugolds got into Pioneer territory for the first time in the fourth-quarter with less than eight minutes left to play. Then on a fourth and four at the Pioneers' 45-yardline, Johnson came up with a clutch sack, giving the offense the ball back on the 50-yardline. Five plays later, Kelly completed is seventh touchdown pass to Bryan Whitehead putting the game away, 49-27.
The Pioneers improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2004 and the second time since 1976. The Blugolds fall to 0-4 on the year.
UW-Platteville travels to 0-4 UW-River Falls on Oct. 12. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Ramer Field.