PLATTEVILLE — If one team outgains its opponent, and that team commits fewer turnovers than its opponent, that team usually wins.
“Usually” does not mean “always,” though, as Platteville’s 26–14 Homecoming loss to Prairie du Chien at rain-swept Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium demonstrated Friday.
Platteville outgained Prairie du Chien 281–267, and 166–103 on the ground, with nine first downs to the Blackhawks’ seven, and recovered two turnovers, both fumbles, to one interception.
So why didn’t Platteville win?
“They capitalized on the opportunities we gave them, while we did not,” said Hillmen coach Kyle Craig. “They were able to take advantage of a couple special teams miscues and hit a couple big plays against our defense that led directly to touchdowns.
“We also started with the ball on the positive side of the 50-yard line three times and failed to convert any of those into points. They made the most of their opportunities while we did not.”
The first examples were after Platteville’s first fumble recovery of the night, at the Prairie du Chien 31 less than two minutes into the game. Quarterback Cody Schambow threw a touchdown pass that was negated by offsetting penalties for roughing the passer and offensive pass interference. The Hillmen moved the ball to the Blackhawk 14, but a 31-yard field goal never took place due to a mishandled snap in the rain.
Instead of alternating tailbacks Jason Withrow and Luke Fugate as had been the case all season, the Hillmen played them both, with Withrow the fullback in front of Fugate. Fugate rushed for 144 yards on 30 carries, while Withrow rushed once for 10 yards, caught five passes for 57 yards, and threw a 37-yard halfback option pass to Donovan Blevins for the night’s first touchdown, capping an eight-play 79-yard scoring drive following a four-yard punt.
“Luke wants nothing more than for the team to have success,” said Craig. “He is a great kid with a terrific attitude and has an innate ability to keep the team loose. His willingness to do what’s best for the team and continual learning has provided him the opportunities he has. He’s been the hot hand for a couple weeks and we’re riding it right now. He and Jason still share the load at tailback and push each other in practice.
“However, neither would have success without our offensive line, tight ends, and fullback blocking for them. Lots of people see their numbers and forget that it takes 10 other guys on offense doing their job in order for one guy to get numbers.”
Prairie du Chien responded with its own 14-play 77-yard scoring drive that took more than half of the second quarter, and featured two third-down conversions and a fourth-down defensive pass interference penalty. Dylan Yeomans’ score with 4:05 left in the half tied the game at 7–7.
One of those past-midfield opportunities, after a 13-yard punt to the Platteville 49, went backward four yards after a recovered fumble, then imploded when a blocked punt gave Prairie du Chien the ball at the Platteville 33 with 22 seconds left in the half. The Blackhawk needed just 14 seconds for a 31-yard pass and then Peyton Hall’s one-yard score to give the Blackhawks a 14–7 halftime lead.
The second-half kickoff went to the Blackhawks, and started a five-play 66-yard drive that featured a Yeomans 33-yard run, a Hall 19-yard run, and a Brogan Potter half-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 20–7.
Platteville trimmed the lead to 20–14 with a six-play 62-yard drive sandwiched between the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. The drive started with a Fugate 19-yard run and ended with a Fugate 29-yard touchdown run.
Two plays later, though, Prairie’s two-score lead was restored on Potter’s 65-yard touchdown pass to Casey Hogenson with 8:47 left in the game. Platteville’s following drives ended on a fourth-and-eight incompletion and the Hillmen’s only turnover of the night.
The loss dropped Platteville to 1–4 and 0–1 in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference, with a trip to winless Richland Center Friday night.
“We have played a very tough schedule,” said Craig. “A lot of people will get caught up in the record and miss the improvement that has occurred through the first seven weeks of the season. Obviously we wish our record was different, but we still have all of our goals in front of us, including a conference championship, although we’ll need help with that now.
“In the grand scheme of earning a playoff birth, we’re really 0–1. That’s the only part of 1–4 that matters right now. I’m very proud of the fight and grit our team has exhibited. They don’t lose focus in the face of adversity. We need to find a way to finish and capitalize the opportunities that we get. We need to find a way to continually improve and not lose sight of our goals. Everything we hope to accomplish is still attainable and we cannot forget that.”
Prairie du Chien 26, Platteville 14
(from Friday, Sept. 19 @ UW–Platteville)
Prairie du Chien 0 14 6 6 — 26
Platteville 0 7 0 7 — 14
P: Donovan Blevins 37 pass from Jason Withrow (Zach White kick)
PdC: Yeomans 3 run (Check kick)
PdC: Hall 1 run (Check kick)
PdC: Potter 4 run (kick failed)
P: Luke Fugate 29 run (White kick)
PdC: Hogenson 65 pass from Potter (run failed)
First downs — PdC 7, P 9. Rushing — PdC 35-103, P 39-166. Passing Yards — PdC 164, P 166. Passing — PdC 5-10-0, P 9-19-1. Fumbles–lost — PdC 4-2, P 3-0. Penalties-yards — PdC 6-40, P 4-29
Rushing — PdC: Hall 13-68; P: Luke Fugate 30-144. Passing — PdC: Potter 5-10-0, 164; P: Cody Schambow 5-10-1, 164. Receiving — PdC: Cauffman 2-63; P: Jason Withrow 5-57, Donovan Blevins 1-37.