The University of Wisconsin-Platteville offense took advantage of having to work on the short end of the field as the UW-Platteville defense forced five turnovers to lead the No. 23 Pioneers to a 56-13 rout of Buena Vista in the season opener on Saturday in Storm Lake, Iowa.
University of Wisconsin-Platteville (1-0) scored seven touchdowns on its first seven possessions to take the sails out of the wind in the home opener for the host Beavers.
"It was a strong showing by the Pioneers," said head coach Mike Emendorfer. "I think we caught BV off balance in the first half with our firepower. When they look at the scoreboard, they are going to think our offense was on fire. But, in reality, it was our defense setting up a short field with turnovers. We have some talent on defense."
Defensively, UW-Platteville forced five turnovers and had three sacks; plus they held Buena Vista to 168 yards of total offense and 11 first downs, most of which came in the second half.
Pioneers' quarterback Nick Anderson was involved in five of the touchdowns including four through the air and ran for another in the first half. The Sycamore, Illinois native played just the first half and completed 15 of 17 passes for 193 yards and four touchdowns to lead an offense that recorded a 298-yard offensive effort and a stingy defense that held the Beavers to four first downs and -37 yards in the first half alone.
The win extends the unbeaten winning streak in season openers for head coach Mike Emendorfer, who is now 14-0 in the initial contest of the season. The 49 points by UW-Platteville in the season opener is the most since the Pioneers' put 64 on the board against Mount Senario in the 2001 lid lifter.
To get on the board, an alert Pioneers' squad recovered an onside opening kickoff. Then, Anderson went on to connect four-straight passes including a 14-yard pass-and-catch with Russell Martin for the early 7-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Nick Snyder forced a fumble and returned it 16 yards to set up a short field for UW-Platteville which set the tone for the afternoon.
Following a pass interference call on first down, three running plays to Lee Vlasak ended with him finding the end zone to stretch the lead to 14-0 just four minutes into the game. On the next possession for the Pioneers, Anderson engineered an eight play, 84-yard drive, where he called his own number on four-straight plays including a rush from six yards out that put UW-Platteville ahead 21-0.
After the Pioneers' Ryan McWethy intercepted a pass on the first play of the next series by the Beavers, Anderson went to work right away. He found an open Ryley Bailey for a 26-yard touchdown pass to put the Pioneers ahead 28-0. The Pioneer defense came up with another turnover, on the next BVU possession, when Michaelis Gabbey intercepted a screen pass. Next, Anderson and the Pioneers converted a 3rd and 5, three plays later; he completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Loferski that stretched the advantage to 35-0 as Zach Litchfield made his fifth of seven point-after attempts.
Later in the quarter, the Pioneers added two more touchdowns en route to a 49-0 halftime lead. However, Buena Vista got on the board on its second drive of the second half when John Hill ran it in from eight yards out to cut the UW-Platteville lead to 49-7. His score came when the Pioneers' punter picked up the snap with his knee on the ground to end the play. The Beavers scored their next points on a 57-yard run early in the fourth quarter by the Beavers that lowered the lead to 49-13.
Next, the Pioneers will open the home portion of its season when they host Dubuque in the Battle of the Bridge, sponsored by Dairy Queen at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium at 1 p.m.