WESTBY — Platteville scored four fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away from host Westby for a 55–25 non-conference victory over the Norsemen Friday afternoon.
Junior running back A.J. Barner returned to the Platteville lineup after missing the first two games with a lower back injury and rushed for 108 yards and four touchdowns to led the Hillmen offensive juggernaut early on.
Senior Donovan Blevins caught seven passes for 77 yards, including a pair of fourth-quarter TDs from senior Ethan Bernhardt, and returned a fumble 43 yards for a third score with four minutes left in the game to put the game out of reach.
Barner scored on a 28-yard run in the opening quarter and scored again on a 2-yard run a minute into the second quarter make it 14–0.
Westby’s Chevy Knight scored on a 2-yard TD run with two minutes left in the half. The Norsemen pulled within 14–12 with 53 seconds left in the half, when Hunter Ward foiled a Platteville hook-and-ladder and returned a fumble 33 yards for a score.
Barner added touchdown runs of 4 and 8 yards in the third quarter to make it 28–12.
“A.J. was phenomenal in his first game back Friday,” said Hillmen coach Ryley Bailey. “He adds the element of speed and toughness to our run game and can also split out as a receiver at times. A.J. is a playmaker and can score every time he touches the ball. We are very excited to see how he continues to grow with more playing time.”
Blevins hauled in an 11-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Westby answered with a 3-yard TD run by Ryan Danies to make it 35–25 with 6:36 left, but two plays later and Bernhardt tossed a 51-yard TD strike to senior Zach White to make it 41–25.
On Westby’s ensuing drive, junior Jacob Niehaus forced a fumble and Blevins gobbled up the loose ball and raced 43 yards for a defensive touchdown. He added a 20-yard TD reception with two minutes left in the game to account for the final score.
Bernhardt completed 21 of 35 passes for 251 yards, three TDs and one interception in the win.
Sophomore linebacker Trevor Heim led the Platteville defense with 11 tackles. Senior Brad Budden added nine, while senior Ian Carter and Niehaus were in on five stops each.
Platteville (3–0), ranked 10th in Division 4, will play one final non-conference game Friday at home against Onalaska Luther (2–1).
Luther is coming off a 42–8 loss to Dodgeville.
“I am excited to be 3–0 right now, but we have a lot of work to do. Our staff as well as the players have to stay hungry and fight complacency. We are going to go into every week with a mindset that we are going to get better at the things we do. We like the motto that each week is a “faceless opponent” and we are in control of our own destiny.
Platteville 55, Westby 25
(from Friday, Sept. 1 @ Westby)
Platteville 7 7 14 27 — 55
Westby 0 12 6 7 — 25
P: AJ Barner 28 run (Zach White kick)
P: Barner 9 run (White kick)
W: Chevy Knight 2 run (Grant Dayton kick)
W: Hunter Ward 33 fumble return (pass failed)
P: Barner 4 run (White kick)
P: Barner 8 run (White kick)
W: Ryan Daines 85 pass from Alex Gluch (pass failed)
P: Donovan Blevins 11 pass from Ethan Bernhardt (White kick)
W: Daines 3 run (Dayton kick)
P: White 51 pass from Bernhardt (kick failed)
P: Blevins 43 fumble return (White kick)
P: Blevins 20 pass from Bernhardt (White kick)
First downs — P 22, W 13. Rushing — P 27-103; W: 45-72. Passing (comp-att-int, yds) — P 21-35-1, 251, W 8-26-0, 177. Fumbles–lost — P 3-3, W 2-2. Penalties-yards — P 9-60, W 5-45.
Rushing — P: AJ Barner 23-108. W: Ryan Daines 14-45. Passing — P: Ethan Bernhardt 21-35-1, 251. W: Alex Gluch 8-28-0, 177. Receiving — P: Zach White 6-94, Donovan Blevins 7-77. W: Davontae Spears 3-46, Daines 2-88.