Nothing seemed to faze the Platteville Hillmen Friday night.
Not a 45-minute lightning delay. Not a wet field. Not the typical Homecoming distractions. And certainly the visiting Westby Norsemen could not stop a determined Platteville squad.
Coach Jason Weittenhiller’s Hillmen rushed for 219 yards and held the visiting Norsemen to just 22 yards on the ground en route to a 34–13 Southwest Wisconsin Conference victory Friday at UW–Platteville’s Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium.
Platteville improved to 4–2 on the season and 3–1 in the SWC and is now one win away from clinching a postseason berth with three weeks remaining.
“This was a huge victory for us,” said Weittenhiller. “Westby has a lot of good athletes that can hurt you in a lot of ways. Our guys came focused and ready to play ball.
“This team has a great group of guys. They do a nice job of staying focused and blocking out distractions.”
The game began under a lightning delay and didn’t start until 7:45 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.
“The weather delay didn’t bother us too bad,” said Weittenhiller. “We just stayed in the locker room until about 7 and dropped warmups to 30 minutes. They guys stayed very loose during the delay. They were playing catch in the locker room and had the music playing.”
When the game finally started, the Platteville offense took the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards in five plays and took an early 7–0 led on a 9-yard touchdown run by junior John Goomey and an extra point by senior Max Allion. The big play on the drive was a 58-yard pass from senior Tyler McClain to sophomore Devin Digman that moved the ball to the Westby 7.
The Norsemen (1–5, 1–3) answered with a long kick return by junior Davontae Spears. Two plays later Spears made a sensational leaping catch in the corner of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7–7.
Platteville’s next drive ended on downs when McClain was sacked on 4th and 8 at the Westby 27.
Sophomore quarterback Ian Digman came off the bench to lead a touchdown drive after McClain suffered a sprained ankle. Digman completed passes to Seth Millsap (4 yards) and Logan Page (25 yards) then capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
Spears scored on a 1-yard run late in the second, but the extra point failed and Platteville held a 14–13 lead.
McClain returned to the game to lead Platteville’s next scoring drive. Goomey picked up 25 yards on 3rd and 2 and McClain connected with Millsap on a 25-yard pass play to the Westby 7.
Three plays later Millsap caught a fade in the right corner of the end zone to make it 20–13 with less than 30 seconds to play in the opening half.
Platteville nearly added to the lead on the final play of the half, when sophomore Jesse Martin intercepted a long Westby pass and looked to have a path to the end zone for a 60-yard TD return, but he was tripped up inside the 5 and dove for the goal line, but came up a yard short as time expired.
A third down sack by Platteville senior Will Schaefer forced a Westby punt from inside its own 10-yard line.
Platteville took advantage of the short field position, and needed just two Goomey runs — the last a 10-yard touchdown — to cover 43 yards. Allion tacked on the PAT for a 27–13 lead.
The Hillmen defense again pushed Westby backwards on its next drive and a botched snap on a fourth down punt resulted in six-yard loss and a turnover on downs at the Westby 27.
McClain extended the drive with a 12-yard screen pass to Goomey on 4th-and-10, and on the next play Goomey scored from 15 yards out to make it 34–13.
Westby’s next three drives ended in a punt, another interception by Martin near midfield and an interception by Millsap at the Platteville 35.
Goomey finished the game with a career-high 151 yards rushing on 27 carries. He also led the team with seven tackles.
Digman added 32 yards rushing on six attempts, and caught a team-high five passes for 84 yards. He added three tackles.
McClain completed 14 of 21 passes for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and rushed for 30 yards on eight carries, despite missing a series with a sprained ankle.
Schaefer and junior Adam Bird each had sacks for Platteville and the Hillmen finished with five tackles for loss while limiting the Norsemen to less than a yard per carry (22 yards rushing on 24 attempts).
“Our defensive line has lead our defense all year,” said Weittenhiller. “They do a great job of holding their gaps and eating up blockers, which keeps our linebackers free. Offensively, our line did a great job. They were moving guys around all night. They also kept Tyler upright and gave him time to throw the ball down field.”
Platteville will travel to Dodgeville (2–4, 2–2) Friday night. The Dodgers are coming off a 50–8 loss to Arcadia.
“Our goal for the Dodgeville game is to come away with a victory and become playoff eligible,” added Weittenhiller.
Platteville 34, Westby 13
(from Friday, Sept. 27 @ UW–Platteville)
Westby 7 6 0 0 — 13
Platteville 7 13 14 0 — 34
P: John Goomey 9 run (Max Allion kick)
W: Davontae Spears 24 pass from Dillon Ellefson (Spears kick)
P: Ian Digman 4 run (Allion kick)
W: Spears 1 run (kick failed)
P: Seth Millsap 7 pass from Tyler McClain (kick failed)
P: Goomey 10 run (Allion kick)
P: Devin Digman 8 pass from McClain (Allion kick)
First downs — W 9, P 23. Rushing — W 24-22, P 43-219. Passing (comp-att-int, yds) — W 5-17-3, 90; P 16-23-0, 214. Fumbles–lost — W 0-0, P 1-1. Penalties-yards — W 3-15, P 6-55.
Rushing — W: Alex Hebel 6-36, P: John Goomey 27-151. Passing — W: Dillon Ellefson 5-17-3, 90; P: Tyler McClain 14-21-0, 185. Receiving — W: Davontae Spears 4-86, P: Devin Digman 5-84, Logan Page 3-44, Seth Millsap 3-36, Jesse Martin 3-23. Tackles — P: Goomey 7, Allion 3, D. Digman 3, Will Schaefer 3.