PLATTEVILLE — UW–Platteville honored 25 seniors prior to Saturday's home finale, then celebrated in style by throttling visiting UW–Eau Claire 56–0 on Senior Day.
The 11th-ranked Pioneers dominated every phase of the game, outgaining the Blugolds 627–152. Coach Mike Emendorfer's squad scored on all six of its first-half possessions, while holding Eau Claire without a first down until late in the second quarter.
Senior quarterback Tom Kelly followed up last week's six-touchdown performance with an equally-dominant 410-yard, five-touchdown passing day on Saturday. He also added a 1-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak midway through the first quarter to make it 14–0.
Sophomore running back Sean Studer scored on a 1-yard run to cap the Pioneers' game-opening 12-play, 61-yard drive. Freshman kicker Samuel Herkert added the first of his seven extra points in the game to make it 7–0.
After Kelly's QB sneak, Senior Dillon Villhauer returned a punt 72 yards for a scored that would have made it 21–0, but the play was wiped out by a holding penalty. Kelly fired a deep TD strike to senior Dan Arnold, that was also negated by a holding call, but the third time was a charm, as Kelly once again hit Arnold from 39 yards out (the Pioneers unofficial third TD on the drive) to make it 21–0.
Kelly added a 33-yard touchdown pass to fellow senior Quinn Buschbacher, then hit the speedy Buschbacher in stride for a 76-yard scoring toss on the ensuing drive.
The Pioneer defense held and forced an Eau Claire punt with just over a minute left in the half, but Kelly and Arnold only needed two plays (both streak routes) and 21 seconds to cover 87 yards, the last of it on a 40-yard TD pass with 47 seconds left in the half to make it 42–0.
Kelly threw his fifth touchdown pass of the day to Buschbacher — and 8-yard receiver screen — with 6:01 left in the third quarter.
Kelly finished the day 22 of 30 for 410 yards and five TD passes in three quarters of play. He also rushed 24 yards on seven carries. Kelly now has a conference-best 2,590 yards and 32 touchdowns passing with just four interceptions in nine games this season.
Arnold surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season, finishing the game with 213 yards and a pair of scores on seven catches. Buschbacher caught a team-high 11 passes for 158 yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore Wyatt Thompson closed out the scoring with a 6-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
UW–Platteville improved to 7–2 on the season and 4–2 in the WIAC. UW–Eau Claire fell to 2–7, 1–5.
The Pioneers will close out the regular season next Saturday at UW–La Crosse (5–4, 2–4). The Eagles suffered a 51–29 loss to fifth-ranked UW–Oshkosh on Saturday.
By Jason Nihles, UW–Platteville Sports Information Assistant