Puccini carries No. 11 Pioneers past UW-La Crosse
PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Andy Puccini rushed for 221 yards, carrying the 11th-ranked University of Wisconsin-Platteville football team past UW-La Crosse, 20-10, on Saturday at Ralph E. Davis Pioneers Stadium.
Puccini's 221 yards was the first time a Pioneer rushed for over 200 yards since 2006 when Mike Genslinger recorded 285 yards against UW-River Falls. The junior from Bartlett, Ill., added 25 yards receiving and marched into the end zone in the third quarter.
Senior John Kelly threw for 250 yards and went 26-for-34 with a touchdown. Kelly's touchdown pass in the fourth quarter tied the Pioneers' single season passing touchdown record of 29, set by Chris Charnish in 1969. Senior Paul Reit lead all receivers with eight catches for 90 yards. SeniorRyley Bailey caught seven passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, while junior Trevor Whiteheadrecorded seven receptions for 64 yards.
Defensively, the Pioneers gave up a season-low 216 total yards of offense with 153 of them coming from the air. Sophomore Devon Vance tallied a team-high nine tackles, while fellow sophomore Andrew Robinson recorded his second two-sack game of the year for five total tackles.
The Eagles won the toss and had their opening drive sputter out, but were able to go up 3-0 on a 38-yard field goal by Matt Van Druten. The Pioneers were driving on their first possession but just like UWL had their drive fizzle out near the red zone. Zach Litchfield tied it up, 3-3 with a 38-yard field goal. The Pioneers managed to add another field goal near halftime, taking a 6-3 lead into the break.
A fumble by Puccini at UWL's three yardline ended the Pioneers opening drive of the second half, but Puccini redeemed himself at the end of the third quarter with a four yard touchdown run, 13-3. The defense then forced an Eagle three and out, and the Pioneer offense used a four-minute 50-second, 74-yard touchdown drive to go up 20-3 with just under 10 minutes to play. The Eagles finally got into the end zone with 1:16 left to play, 20-10. Reit fielded the onside kick to seal the 20-10 victory.
The Pioneers improve to 8-1 and 5-1 in WIAC play, while UWL falls to 3-6 and 3-3 in conference action. UW-Platteville ends its home slate 4-0 for the first time since 1976.
The Pioneers travel to No. 8 UW-Oshkosh on Nov. 16 and the winner will be in great position to earn one of the five at-large bids to the NCAA Division III Football Championship.