Nationally ranked teams collide in WIAC opener

Nationally ranked teams collide in WIAC opener

The game: The University of Wisconsin-Platteville puts its undefeated mark on the line against unbeaten UW-Stout Saturday at 2 p.m. in Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium to open Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

The records: The Pioneers are 3-0 overall, while UW-Stout is 2-0.

The rankings: UW-Platteville is ranked 10th in the American Football Coaches Association poll and 12th in the latest rankings. UW-Stout is 25th in the AFCA and 22nd in

The coaches: Mike Emendorfer is UW-Platteville's all-time winningest coach, compiling a 93-92 record in his 19th season. He has taken the Pioneers to their only two NCAA III playoff berths in school history, in 2013 and 2016. Emendorfer is the WIAC's active leader in victories. Clayt Birmingham is in his eighth year as the UW-Stout head coach after spending three years as the defensive coordinator. He has a 28-44 record and has the Blue Devils off to their first 2-0 start since 2013.

The Pioneers: UW-Platteville put together a complete performance in defeating two-time defending Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference champion Lakeland 56-22 Saturday night. After four possessions, the Pioneers held a 28-0 lead and a 241-18 advantage in yards, thanks in part to strong line performances on both sides of the ball. The Pioneers finished with 516 yards of offense, with 286 on the ground and 230 in the air.

Tyler Blang, in his first collegiate start, threw 4 touchdown passes, with three going to Mark Johnson, who finished with 9 receptions for 155 yards. Sean Studer rushed for 118 yards and two scores, and Wyatt Thompson gained 87 on the ground with a touchdown. Luke Johnson paced the defense with 8 tackles, and Chandler Crary and Colin Griffin each had sacks.

Michael Pratl has made all 16 of his PAT attempts and 4 field goals, including the game-winner against George Fox. UW-Platteville beat the Bruins 30-28 and won at Hampden-Sydney 38-29 in its first two games.

The Pioneers have gone 31-11 in conference games since the start of the 2011 season.

The Blue Devils: UW-Stout opened its season—and some eyes—with a 17-0 shutout of Simpson College, but if that wasn't enough, the Blue Devils had NCAA III's full attention with a 25-22 victory over St. Thomas, then ranked fourth in the country. The Blue Devils' start has them in the national polls for the first time since 2005.

J.Dan Sturgeon made his first start at QB against the Tommies and threw for 248 yards and 3 touchdowns, including the game-winner to Josh Malone with 1:27 remaining. The stingy Stout defense followed up its opening-week shutout by holding St. Thomas to 100 rushing and 315 total yards.

Junior kicker Drew Pearson was a preseason all-American after a 2016 campaign that saw him make 16 of 19 fields, including two good from beyond 50 yards.

The Blue Devils' game against short-handed Trinity Bible was cancelled last Saturday, giving Stout two straight bye Saturdays.

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 The Next Game: UW-Platteville plays at UW-River Falls Saturday at 1 p.m. before facing third-ranked and defending national runner-up UW Oshkosh Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. in the Pioneers' annual Homecoming game.


Preview by Paul Erickson, Director, UW-Platteville Communications, 608.342.1194,