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Pioneers cap season with 527 rout of La Crosse
Despite 82 finish and top-15 ranking Pioneers left out of 32-team Division III playoff field
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Junior Tom Kelly completed 22 of 25 passes for 284 yards and four touchdowns in Saturdays 527 win over UWLa Crosse.

The UW–Platteville football team closed out the 2015 regular season in style, celebrating Senior Day with a 52–7 thrashing of visiting UW–La Crosse Eagles Saturday at Ralph E. Pioneer Davis Stadium.

The 14th ranked Pioneers dominated every facet of the game. Offensively they piled up 568 yards — exactly 284 rushing and 284 passing — and scored six touchdowns on 79 plays.

The defense also got in on the scoring when senior Devon Vance (Crystal Lake, Ill.) returned an interception 35 yards for the final points of the game with 13:10 remaining. The Pioneer defense held the Eagles (3–7, 2–5 WIAC) to 216 yards and forced three turnovers.

UW–Platteville honored its 18 seniors prior to the game, but it was junior quarterback Tom Kelly (Chicago, Ill.) who stole the show offensively. Kelly connected on 22 of 25 passes for 284 yards and four touchdowns, including a 45-yard Hail Mary to junior Dan Arnold (Fargo, N.D.) on the final play of the first half that sent the Pioneers into the locker room with a 24–0 lead. He also rushed for 30 yards.

Kelly also threw first-half TD passes to junior Patrick Sheehan (Flossmoor, Ill.) and junior Quinn Buschbacher (Sugar Grove, Ill.). He added a 49-yard scoring strike to Sheehan on a 4th-and-1 play with 7:06 left in the third quarter that made it 38–0 after UWP head coach Mike Emendorfer called timeout and reversed his previous decision to punt. The Pioneers never did punt in the game.

Sheehan finished with 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns on five catches. Senior Russell Martin led the Pioneers with 89 yards on eight catches. Buschbacher added 38 yards on six catches.

Senior Ryan Fish (Madison, Ind.) finished with a game-high 111 yards rushing on 16 carries. His 4-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter made it 45–7.

Junior Kyle Whitman (Round Lake, Ill.) added 93 yards rushing on 21 carries, including a 1-yard TD run four minutes into the second half.

Freshman kicker Michael Pratl (New Lenox, Ill.) scored the game’s first points with a 22-yard field goal three minutes into the game. The Pioneers never trailed.

UW–La Crosse’s only score came on a 12-yard TD pass from freshman Drew David to junior Joel Oxton with 2:06 left in the third quarter.

Sophomore Marty McGrail (So., Plainfield, Ill.) recorded a team-high nine tackles to lead the Pioneer defense. Senior Andrew Belken (East Dubuque, Ill.) had a great all-around game with seven tackles, one sack and an interception.

Seniors Alex Johnson (Milan, Ill.) and Andrew Robinson (Arcadia) also had sacks for the Pioneers.

The Pioneers have now rushed for more than 280 yards in three straight games. They combined for 855 yards on the ground in that span during lopsided wins over UW–Stout, UW–Eau Claire and now UW–La Crosse. UWP has also scored more than 43 points for the fifth straight game and the sixth time this year.

UW–Platteville finished the season 8–2 overall and 5–2 in the WIAC behind champion UW-Oshkosh (9–1, 7–0) and runner-up UW–Whitewater. The 3rd-ranked Titans wrapped up the regular season with a 38–0 victory over UW–Eau Claire to clinch the WIAC’s automatic playoff bid. The 6th-ranked Warhawks (9–1, 6–1) posted a dominant 63–14 victory over UW–Stout to position themselves for an at-large playoff berth.

The Pioneers’ postseason hopes were dashed Sunday night when they learned they were not selected as one of the six at-large berths for Division III playoff field. WIAC foes UW–Oshkosh and UW–Whitewater were among the 32 teams selected.

UW–Platteville 52, UW–La Crosse 7
(from Saturday, Nov. 14 @ Platteville)
UW–La Crosse    0     0      7     0     —  7
UW–Platteville    0    24   14    14    —  52

P: FG Michael Pratl 22
P: Patrick Sheehan 9 pass from Tom Kelly (Michael Pratl kick)
P: Quinn Buschbacher 15 pass from Kelly (Pratl kick)
P: Dan Arnold 45 pass from Kelly (Pratl kick)
P: Kyle Whitman 1 run (Pratl kick)
P: Sheehan 49 pass from Kelly (Pratl kick)
L: Joel Oxton 12 pass from Drew David (Van Druten kick)
P: Ryan Fish 4 run (Pratl kick)
P: Devon Vance 35 interception return
Team Statistics
First downs — L 15, P 31. Rushing — L 35-86, P 54-284. Passing — L 13-23-2, 130; P 22-25-0, 284. Fumbles–lost — L 2-1, P 1-1. Penalties — L 1-5, P 4-51.
Individual Statistics
Rushing — L: Austin Mancosky 16-70; P: Ryan Fish 16-111, Kyle Whitman 21-92. Passing — L: Drew David 12-22-2, 125; P: Tom Kelly 22-25-0, 284. Receiving — L: A.J. Day 3-35; P: Patrick Sheehan 5-90, Russell Martin 8-89.