Given the other scores in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference that seemed to be basketball scores and not football scores, it could be said that Platteville was the only SWC team that actually played defense Friday.
In a night that included Lancaster beating River Valley 67–37 and Dodgeville beating Prairie du Chien 48–30, the Hillmen were the stingiest team of the week in beating the Hornets 47–14 at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium.
The Hillmen (4–2, 2–0 SWC) were certainly stingy on their first two defensive series, pushing back the Hornets 10 yards.
The Hillmen offense, meanwhile, took advantage of the great field position the defense and special teams gave them. Jacob Bernhardt started the night with a 30-yard touchdown run on the Hillmen’s third offensive play. One series later, a 19-yard pass from Blake Wagner to Mitch Knockel set up Jason Withrow’s 14-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 14–0 with 6:33 left in the first.
Then, things got interesting. On their third offensive series, the Hornets trotted out a formation twist with an end and tackle splitting wide, with two running backs behind them. Most of the time, the box then moved back inside, though on some plays they stayed split. That got the RC offense moving, with a 31-yard Karl Falk run, a 48-yard pass from Noah Johnson to Brandon Banker, and an 11-yard Chase Coleman run moving the ball to the Platteville 3-yard line. Johnson’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Gander cut the lead to 14–7 with 4:48 left in the first.
“Our defense played well,” said Hillmen head coach Scott Statz. “They threw some curveballs at us and I thought the kids did a decent job of adjusting on the fly. Our defense has improved, we are playing more disciplined and have been tackling better. Both of these are a must for this group.”
The Hillmen reestablished their two-score lead in less than two minutes, with a 10-yard Ryan Weber run setting up a 24-yard touchdown pass from Wagner to Chance Kupersmith, making it 21–7 with 2:51 left in the first.
Platteville’s lead grew to 27–7 on a seven-play 63-yard drive that included a 13-yard Weber run, a 13-yard Wagner run and a 15-yard Withrow run, and ended with a 7-yard Bernhardt touchdown run.
The Hillmen added another score on their second possession of the third quarter, a 7-play 62-yard drive that included a 22-yard Weber run, a 30-yard pass from Wagner to Jake Baker, and a 2-yard Withrow touchdown run.
Richland Center got its second score on two plays — a 30-yard Falk run and an 8-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Austin Haas — after that, then the Hornets tried an onside kick that Platteville recovered at the Richland Center 49. Two Bernhardt runs of 6 and 43 yards later, Bernhardt was in the end zone to extend the lead to 41–14.
The questions for Friday night at River Valley are two — whether the Hillmen defense can stop River Valley’s offense, which put up 37 points against defending state finalist Lancaster, or how much can the Hillmen score against a defense that gave up 67 to the Flying Arrows.
“River Valley is a very good football team with their only losses coming to Brodhead–Juda and Lancaster,” said Statz. “They are fast, throw the ball very well, and are well coached. We will need to be at the top of our game, no question about it.”
Richland Center 14
(from Friday, Sept. 26 @ UW–Platteville)
Richland Center 7 0 7 0 — 14
Platteville 21 6 20 0 — 47
P: Jacob Bernhardt 30 run (Zach White kick)
P: Jason Withrow 14 run (White kick)
RC: Cameron Murphy 4 pass from Noah Johnson (Austin Haas kick)
P: Chance Kupersmith 24 pass from Blake Wagner (White kick)
P: Bernhardt 7 run (kick failed)
P: Withrow 1 run (Tyler Brookens kick)
RC: Austin Haas 9 pass from Johnson (Haas kick)
P: Bernhardt 43 run (Brookens kick)
P: Wagner 1 run (kick failed)
First downs — RC 12, P 20. Rushing — RC 32-93, P 52-422. Passing Yards — RC 183, P 172. Passing — RC 10-21-1, P 8-12-1. Fumbles–lost — RC 2-1, P 3-2. Penalties-yards — RC 2-10, P 7-70.
Rushing — RC: Carl Falk 4-55; P: Jacob Bernhardt 18-194. Passing — RC: Noah Johnson 10-21-1, 183; P: Blake Wagner 7-11-1, 157. Receiving — RC: Austin Haas 5-107; P: Mitch Knockel 3-39.