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Game of inches

Kolton Hegstrom, Sports Editor

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It took two clutch defensive stops for the Warhawks to hold on to the Miner’s Axe in a thrilling 17-16 victory over the No. 20 UW-Platteville Pioneers.

“As a (defensive) unit we enjoy the pressure and we rose to the occasion,” sophomore defensive back Jacob Frey said.

UW-W was up 17-14 with three minutes remaining the Pioneers knocking on the end zone on a third and goal from the four-yard-line when Frey intercepted a Pioneer pass attempt.

On the ensuing Warhawk possession running back Canton Larson went down in for a safety giving UW-P one more chance.

The Warhawks stopped the Pioneers on fourth down, sealing UW-W’s 13th straight win in the George Chryst Memorial Bowl, played in honor of former UW-P head coach George Chryst.

A blocked field goal by junior defensive back Bailey Breunig on the Pioneers first possession of the game proved to be the difference in the final score.

“It was a very big play, and our guys executed it to perfection.” Junior linebacker Alex Zacharias said. “It really changed the momentum of the game.”

All four of the game’s touchdowns were scored in the third quarter after neither team was able to score in the first half.

UW-W jumped out to a quick start in the third quarter with junior running back Drew Patterson bounced off Pioneer defenders taking the third play 64 yards giving the Warhawks a 7-0 lead.

After a Pioneer three-and-out, Warhawks junior quarterback Cole Wilber hit junior receiver Adam Korpela for a 46-yard pass to set up a first and goal at the UW-P ten-yard line. Then, on third and goal sophomore running back Josh Ringelberg hooked up with tight end Tony Gumina on a halfback toss to give the Warhawks a 14-point lead.

On the next possession UW-W defensive lineman Cal Durni forced a fumble setting up a 25-yard field goal by freshman kicker Wojciech Gasienica to increase the lead to 17.

UW-P responded to the Warhawks trick play with one of their own, as senior quarterback Jack Eddy used a flea-flicker to hit receiver Mark Johnson on a 41-yard touchdown pass. On the next possession Pioneers sophomore running back Bo Babich scored on a yard touchdown to trim the lead to three with 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

“The thing about Platteville is you’re never going to shut them down.” Bullis said.

The safety by UW-P were the only points scored in the fourth quarter.

The Warhawks are now 6-3 and have won five straight games heading into their regular season finale against UW-Eau Claire. That game will be Nov. 11 at Perkins Stadium. Eau Claire comes into the game with a 1-8 record fresh off a 42-7 loss to No. 3 UW-Oshkosh.

Patterson finished the game with 110 rushing yards and a touchdown and was named the Bowl’s Offensive Players of the Game. Sophomore defensive back Nate Tranel was named the defensive player of the game as he finished with nine tackles.

UW-W surrendered 138 rushing yards to the Pioneers after holding them to negative rushing yards in last year’s matchup. Babich finished the game with 142 yards rushing.

“We were inconsistent with some of the things we were doing a year ago,” Bullis said in response to the difference in the yardage, “that’s the most they have ever run the ball on us and it drives me nuts.”

The Warhawks offense hurt themselves all night. In the first half UW-W had two drops on long pass attempts that Bullis believes would have been touchdowns. UW-W finished the game with 10 penalties for 115 yards that derailed multiple offensive drives.

“Can’t miss on those opportunities,” Bullis said about the drops. “We wouldn’t have been in the position we were in the if we capitalize on those.”

The game against the Blugolds will be Senior Day for the Warhawks. The UW-W senior class has a 45-6 record over the last four years and has only dropped one game at Perkins Stadium.

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Game of inches