Pioneers play under the lights Saturday

Pioneers play under the lights Saturday

The game: The University of Wisconsin-Platteville plays its first home night game since 2012 when the Pioneers face Lakeland Saturday at 6 p.m.

The lights: Saturday marks the first-ever Pioneer football game under the lights that were installed after a 2014 tornado brought down three of the four lighting fixtures that had stood since 1972. Many soccer and high school football games have been contested under the new lights, but this will be the first Pioneer football game. The last home football game with a 6 p.m. kickoff came on Sept. 20, 2012, when the Pioneers beat UW-Eau Claire 49-19.

The records: The Pioneers bring a 2-0 record into the game, while Lakeland is 1-1.

The rankings: UW-Platteville is ranked 13th in the latest d3football.com poll. Lakeland is unranked.

The coaches: Saturday's matchup features a couple of noteworthy items. Mike Emendorfer is UW-Platteville's all-time winningest coach, compiling a 93-92 record in his 19th season. Game number one—and victory number one—came in 1999, when the Pioneers rallied to beat Lakeland 20-17 in the season opener. This is the Muskies' first visit to Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium since that contest. Lakeland Coach Colin Bruton spent the 2004-06 seasons as the Pioneers' linebacker coach under Emendorfer. He joined the Muskies' staff in 2007 and became the head coach in 2015. In his three years, the Muskies are 16-8 with two straight Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference championships and NCAA III playoff appearances. Emendorfer has taken the Pioneers to their only two playoff berths in school history, in 2013 and 2016.

The Pioneers: UW-Platteville showed its mettle by overcoming deficits in both its first two victories. The Pioneers beat George Fox 30-28 Sept. 2 on Mike Pratl's 28-yard field goal with 1:41 to play. Freshman quarterback Cade Earl was 6-6 on the final 45-yard drive, and completed 37 of 49 passes for 434 yards in his first start. Last Saturday, the Pioneers scored all 17 second-half points to win at Hampden-Sydney, Virginia, 38-27. UW-Platteville forced three turnovers in recording the second-half blanking. Wyatt Thompson scored twice, including the game-clincher on a two-yard run with 5:00 to play. Tyler Blang, in relief of an injured Earl, had a 32-yard scoring pass to Zach Rappel in the third quarter.

The Pioneers are averaging 422.5 yards per game, including 327.5 through the air. Mark Johnson (18 receptions, 140 yards) and Tim Jansen (17-254) are the top receiving targets. UW-Platteville has allowed just 46.5 yards per game on the ground. John Hotchkiss leads the team with 11 tackles, while Colin Griffin has recorded a pair of sacks.

The Muskies: Lakeland is the two-time defending Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference champion and preseason league favorite. The Muskies christened a new stadium, turf and lights to beat Carroll University 43-29 Sept. 2. Two-time NACC Offensive Player of the Year Michael Whitley passed completed 27 of 46 passes for 473 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns. Jamal Hawkins-Sconiers (141 yards) and Dexman Morse (122 yards) both topped 100 yards receiving, while Jody Harrison added eight catches for 95 yards.

In a 37-35 loss at Olivet Saturday, Whitley threw for a school-record 48 completions in 58 attempts for 377 yards and a pair of scores. Eldrara Meek ran for 128 yards;  Dexman Mores, Allante Gardner and Harrison each caught double-digits receptions; and Mores and Gardner topped 100 yards apiece.

The Hall of Fame: UW-Platteville will induct five new members into the Hall of Fame Saturday afternoon and will honor them at halftime of the football game.

    • Merrill Brunson, Basketball
    • Wally Iselin, Wrestling Coach
    • Kristen (Shields) Tenny, Volleyball
    • Jennifer (Zell) Soehner, Softball
    • Justin Wells, Cross Country/Track

The Next Game: UW-Platteville opens Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play against surprising 24th-ranked UW-Stout next Saturday at 2 p.m. in Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium. The Blue Devils' 2-0 record includes a stunning 25-22 win over St. Thomas, then ranked fourth in the D3football.com poll, on Sept. 9. The Blue Devils' game against short-handed Trinity Bible was cancelled for Saturday, meaning Stout will come in undefeated and nationally ranked.

The D3football.com poll

Rank

School (No. 1 votes)

W-L

Points

Prev.

1

Mary Hardin-Baylor (19)

2-0

618

1

2

Mount Union (5)

2-0

594

2

3

UW-Oshkosh (1)

2-0

576

3

4

Wheaton (Ill.)

3-0

545

4

5

North Central (Ill.)

2-0

523

5

6

St. John's

3-0

503

7

7

Hardin-Simmons

2-0

448

8

8

Linfield

1-1

380

6

9

John Carroll

1-1

371

9

10

St. Thomas

2-1

363

10

11

Frostburg State

3-0

355

11

12

Delaware Valley

3-0

342

12

13

UW-Platteville

2-0

329

13

14

Johns Hopkins

3-0

249

14

15

Whitworth

3-0

236

20

16

Wittenberg

2-0

188

15

17

Washington and Jefferson

3-0

187

18

18

Case Western Reserve

2-0

183

17

19

Brockport

3-0

172

22

20

Illinois Wesleyan

2-1

163

16

21

Concordia-Moorhead

3-0

141

23

22

Wesley

1-1

127

24

23

Alfred

2-0

119

19

24

UW-Stout

2-0

107

25

25

Wabash

2-0

67

--

Dropped out: No. 21 Redlands.
Others receiving votes: Coe 59; Berry 31; Albright 29; Wartburg 22; Springfield 19; UW-Whitewater 13; RPI 11; Stevenson 9; George Fox 7; Redlands 7; UW-La Crosse 6; Framingham State 6; Hobart 6; Dubuque 4; Heidelberg 3; Sul Ross State 3; Bridgewater 2; Centre 2.

The D3football.com Top 25 is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members from across the country, and is published weekly. Points are awarded on a 25-24-23-22-etc. basis.

Preview by Paul Erickson, Director, UW-Platteville Communications, 608.342.1194, pr@uwplatt.edu.