Garrison Jones ran for two touchdowns and Logan Emendorfer passed for two more as the Platteville Hillmen withstood the Richland Center Hornets, 35-27, here at Avitus Ripp Field Friday night.
Platteville scored on the first play from scrimmage and twice more in 15 seconds to open a 21-7 lead in the first quarter.
But the unbeaten Hillmen were not resting comfortably until Emendorfer snagged the Hornets’ onside kick with 90 seconds left.
“I was happy we didn’t quit fighting,” said Hornet coach Greg Schoepp. “I liked our physicality. We did some good things and showed we can compete. But we have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. We let them run back their opening kickoff (to the RC 11), had two blown pass coverages and lost two fumbles. We just made things that much tougher for ourselves. I think we gained some confidence, but we still didn’t get the win.”
Emendorfer tossed a 46-yard scoring pass to David Bast and a 30-yarder to Jesse Heer. Jones ran 11 and four yards for touchdowns, and Brad Saunders also scored on a four-yard run. Firas Jadaan kicked three of four conversions, and Emendorfer threw to Saunders for another.
Senior quarterback Todd Wienkes fired three touchdown passes for the Hornets to three different receivers. He hit Denzel Connor on an 18-yarder, Kory Stevens on a 16-yarder, and Evan Ewing on a 33-yard scoring play. Stevens, who was limited to 34 yards rushing on eight carries after a pair of 100-yard games, still managed one rushing touchdown. He ran 18 yards to score, and Wienkes kicked three of four conversions.
Bast set up Platteville’s first touchdown with a long kickoff return. Divontae Casto’s tackle prevented a touchdown – until the Hillmen ran their first play. Jones bolted 11 yards into the end zone, and Platteville had a 7-0 lead after only 17 seconds.
The Hornets quickly answered. After the Hillmen kicked off out of bounds, Wienkes and Casto collaborated on a 36-yard pass. Four plays later, Wienkes tossed an 18-yard scoring pass to Connor, and Wienkes’ kick tied the game.
Following an exchange of punts, Platteville took over at the RC 49 and scored in two plays. Emendorfer and Bast hooked up on a 45-yard bomb and Emendorfer threw to Saunders for the conversion.
Disaster struck as Austen Chafer fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and Hunter Johnston recovered at the RC 30. The Hillmen quickly took advantage as Emendorfer threw to Jesse Heer at 5:54 left. Within 15 seconds, the Hornets found themselves trailing, 21-7, as the conversion failed.
An interception by John Hassell stopped Platteville’s next drive and a couple of tackles for losses by Logan Schmidt established a new tone for the game.
But late in the second quarter Platteville orchestrated a 66-yard drive that was capped by a four-yard scoring run by Saunders. With Jadaan’s kick, the Hillmen took a 28-7 lead at halftime.
Was it the impending doom many expected when an unbeaten team with six returning All-SWC players faced a team with one win in four previous games which had only two players recognized on last year’s All-SWC listings?
Some fans, including the band, apparently thought so.
Casto returned the second half kickoff the Platteville’s 36. Although the Hornets were initially stymied and forced to punt, Alex Mortimer recovered a bobbled punt at the Hillmen’s 18 to get new life. On the next play Stevens circled the left side, bowled over two tacklers and scored with 9:41 left. Wienkes added the conversion.
After Platteville went three-and-out, the Hornets embarked on an 81-yard drive in seven plays. Wienkes hit Connor on a 55-yard pass play, and three plays later he flipped a short pass to Stevens who appeared to be denied a touchdown until he stretched to break the plane. The 15-yard TD pass with 4:28 left and Wienkes’ kick pulled RC within 28-21.
The Hornets were given another chance when Platteville was flagged for holding on three consecutive plays and punted.
But the Hornets could not pick up a first down as a third down pass was dropped. Bast returned Wienkes’ punt to the Hornet 35. Five plays later, Jones plowed into the end zone with 10:59 left in the game. Jadaan again converted.
The Hornets weren’t done yet despite turning the ball over on downs in the red zone on their next possession.
They forced Platteville to punt and needed four plays to score again. Wienkes completed three of four passes including a 28-yarder to Casto, a 15-yarder to Anthony Rider and a rainbow to Ewing covering 33 yards with 1:35 remaining. Mitch Fure blocked Wienkes’ conversion.
But Emendorfer snatched the kickoff with the sure hands of a shortstop to preserve the win.
The Hillmen had a 17-12 edge in first downs. They gained 194 yards on the ground including 133 by Jones while the Hornets managed only 53. Emendorfer hit 11 of 20 passes for 170 yards. Wienkes completed 13 of 19 for 247 to five different receivers as his numbers exceeded his previous four-game totals despite being sacked or tackled for losses 10 times. Bast caught four for 79. RC’s Connor caught four for 82, and Casto had two for 59.
In other SWC action, Lancaster rallied from a 44-27 deficit in the fourth quarter for a 55-44 win over River Valley, and Prairie du Chien outscored Dodgeville, 48-21.
This Friday, the Hornets will go to Lancaster. “We go from the frying pan into the fire,” said coach Schoepp of Lancaster. “They are very fast, so it will be even more important that we don’t make the type of mistakes we made against Platteville.”
Lancaster is 5-0 and averaging 55 points per game.
River Valley (2-3) goes to Dodgeville (2-3), and Platteville (5-0) will host Prairie du Chien (4-1).