PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – The UW-Platteville Pioneers fell to the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium on Saturday's #SetTheExpectation game.
The cold Wisconsin day saw snow fall, wind gusts up to 45 mph, and a Blugolds defense that forced seven turnovers en route to a 40-16 victory.
The Pioneers (4-3, 2-2 WIAC) totaled 324 yards offense with 139 yards rushing and 186 yards passing on the blustery day. The Blugolds (3-4, 1-3 WIAC) recorded 248 yards with 115 yards in the air and 133 yards rushing.
The Pioneers jumped to take an early lead with 6:24 left in the first when sophomore Colin Schuetz hit junior Tyler Knigge for a 52 yard pass for a touchdown. A senior Michael Pratl kick for the extra point set the Pioneers ahead 7-0.
After a Blugold forced fumble by Trevor Nelson, UW-Eau Claire regained possession and a 10 yard rush for a touchdown by Austin Belot evened the score at seven apiece. UW-Eau Claire found the end zone once more with 4:28 left in the half, but a blocked extra point attempt by senior Clayton Becker allowed for senior Josh Mackie to return for two points and only give the Blugolds a 13-9 advantage. The Pioneers attempt to take back the lead was stifled when Schuetz's pass was intercepted by Sam Burznski and the teams headed into halftime 13-9.
The Blugolds' defense's energy continued into the start of the second half. The first two Pioneer drives saw a sack resulting in a fumble and recovery by UW-Eau Claire followed by an interception. UW-Eau Claire's Procter completed a touchdown pass to Tyler McLaughlin and a failed extra point set them ahead 19-9.
In the fourth, the Blugolds scored twice off a returned interception and then a blocked punt return to quickly increase UW-Eau Claire's lead to 33-9 with 11:39 left in the game. The Pioneers were able to spark momentum next with a three play, 71 yard drive that ended with sophomore Bo Babich's 47 yard rush for a touchdown at 10:31 to lessen the Blugolds' advantage to 33-16. UW-Eau Claire tallied their last score of the day with a Procter 35 yard rush with 6:23 to go and a score of 40-16 that would become the final. Although unable to close in on the Blugolds in the remaining few minutes, UW-Platteville's Travis Hofslien recovered a Procter fumble followed by a Pioneer forced fumble to be recovered by Josh Mackie.
Colin Schuetz was sacked five times and completed 14 of 25 attempts for 139 yards, a touchdown, and three interceptions. Brett Geisz completed six of eight attempts for 41 yards and one interception. Caleb Hanson also made his college debut and completed three of his five attempts.
Bo Babich tallied five carries for 75 yards and a long of 47 yards for a touchdown. Senior Sean Studer racked up 12 carries for 61 yards. Senior Tim Jansen recorded seven receptions for 40 yards while Tyler Knigge's three receptions for 69 yards included the 52 yard reception for a touchdown.
On defense, Josh Mackie led with four solo and three tackle assists in addition to his forced fumble, recovery, and his return for two after the blocked extra point. In all, the defense tallied two sacks, six tackles for loss of 12 yards, and two forced fumbles with the recovery.
Michael Pratl's two extra points of the day brings his season total to 29-29.
The UW-Eau Claire defense finished the day with four interceptions for 71 yards, had three fumble recoveries, six sacks, and 10 tackles for loss.
The Pioneers return to action when they travel to UW-La Crosse next Saturday Oct. 27 with kickoff set for 1 p.m.