Zach Litchfield hit a 37-yard field goal through the rain to give UW-Platteville a 17-16 victory over UW-Oshkosh on Saturday (Nov. 16) at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
The Pioneers (9-1/6-1 WIAC), ranked 10th in the NCAA Division III, will likely receive a bid when the playoff field is announced on Sunday. Eighth-ranked UW-Oshkosh (8-2/5-2 WIAC) saw its postseason chances diminished by the one-point defeat.
Trailing by two points, UW-Platteville got the ball at its own 31-yard line with 2:57 remaining. John Kelly converted third downs with an eight-yard run and an eight-yard pass to Ryley Bailey. Andy Puccini's 10-yard run during the final minute put the Pioneers in position. With two seconds left, Litchfield lined up a 37-yarder and drilled it right down the middle for the win.
UW-Oshkosh controlled most of the contest, running the ball 57 times for 272 yards. Cole Myhra posted 194 yards on 36 carries, as he eclipsed 1,000 yards for the season. He is the first Titan to record back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns.
UW-Platteville drove 60 yards on the game's first possession, but Litchfield was wide right with a 32-yard field goal. The teams then traded punts before UW-Oshkosh was stuffed on fourth-and-two near midfield. Beau Steffens got the ball back for the Titans, intercepting Kelly late in the first quarter.
Myhra went to work, grinding out first downs and carrying tacklers on his back. He capped off the 61-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run to take a 6-0 lead. Nate Ray was unable to make the extra point.
Bailey helped the Pioneers go ahead late in the second quarter. He caught passes for 23 and 22 yards to reach the red zone. Kelly then found Bailey over the middle for a 10-yard score that took a 7-6 lead.
The Titans used the last 3:23 of the half to drive 70 yards in 13 plays. Myhra ran for 13 yards before taking screen passes for gains of 12 and 11. As time ran out, Ray knocked a 22-yard field goal through the uprights to go ahead, 9-7.
UW-Oshkosh went on another time-consuming drive in the third period. Myhra got things going with outside runs for 12 and 10 yards. Cory Wipperfurth then hauled in a pass near the sideline, eluded a defender and picked up 24 yards. Myhra converted a 4th-and-1 on the series, and then he pounded his way in for a two-yard touchdown. It was the 41st touchdown of Myhra's career.
Down 16-7, Kelly threw on five straight plays when the Pioneers got the ball back. He completed a 27-yard strike to Russell Martin and a 17-yard bullet to Trevor Whitehead. Austin Blashka then made a tiptoeing interception at the three-yard line to end the threat.
UW-Platteville was ready to get on the scoreboard with 13 minutes left, but Reese Dziedzic picked off a pass in the end zone to maintain the nine-point cushion.
Whitehead fueled the Pioneers' next drive with receptions of 23, 15 and 10 yards. His 23-yard touchdown on a corner route pulled UW-Platteville within 16-14 at the 6:28 mark.
Kelly completed 30-of-45 passes for 340 yards, while Whitehead compiled 14 catches for 131 yards. The Pioneers converted 9-of-15 third downs and finished with 415 yards of offense.
UW-Oshkosh booked 387 total yards, including 115 on 13-of-19 passing by Nick Olla. Wipperfurth paced the Titan receivers with 35 yards on two grabs. UW-Oshkosh succeeded on 6-of-14 third downs.
Devon Vance and Yoel Wonsey each made a game-high 12 tackles for the Pioneers. The Titans were led by seven stops apiece from Austin Blashka, Dexter Charles (one sack) and Reese Dziedzic.
The Titans' eight-win season ties the second-highest total in the program's 119 years.
By Jon Feyen, UW-Oshkosh Sports Information