When Westby (1-2) hosted Platteville (3-0) in non-conference action on Friday, Sept. 1, they were out-sized and out-manned , but they held their own until the final quarter of the game when fatigue set in and the Hillmen finally out-played the Norsemen. Platteville, ranked number 10 in the state, went on to win 55-25.
Westby was its own worst enemy early after fumbling the football on the first play after the kick-off. The Hillmen offense drove the ball down to the 2-yard-line, but the Norsemen defense showed its tenacity and kept them out of the end zone and off the scoreboard.
Westby took over at the 2-yard-line, but landed on the 1-yard line following a penalty. Unable to make a first down, the Norsemen punted, but gave the Hillmen excellent field position when the ball went off the side of Devontae Spears foot and out of bounds at the Westby 18-yard-line.
Once again the Westby defense held strong stopping Platteville who turned the ball over on downs at the Westby 16-yard-line. Westby’s offense was unable to make any headway in the defensive ball game and was forced to punt on the next series.
The Hillmen took advantage of a couple of missed plays by Westby to get in the end zone and on the scoreboard (7-0) at the 4:14 mark in the first quarter. They made it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Westby didn’t stop fighting defensively and the Norsemen offense picked up steam in the second quarter off a nice pass play from quarterback Alex Gluch to Spears for a 44 yard gain. Nolan Rux then reeled in a pass to get Westby to the Platteville 30-yard-line. Gluch kept the ball and weaved his way to the 5-yard-line, before Chevy Knight punched it in for the score as Westby got on the scoreboard with 2:02 on the clock before the half to cut the lead to 14-6.
Westby kept its momentum up when Platteville fumbled the ball on a mistimed hand-off from Platteville quarterback Ethan Bernhardt and Austin Mowery recovered the ball for the Norsemen. Westby was unable to get a first down and turned the ball over on downs at the 1:31 mark.
With time running out before the half, Bernhardt tossed the ball to Connor Riley, who lost the ball into the hands of Mowery who skirted down the sidelines and into the end zone for a Westby score.
The Norsemen trailed 14-12 entering halftime, but the Hillmen dominated after the break. Platteville quarterback Ethan Bernhardt threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns in the game, mostly in the second half. Platteville put up 14 points in the third quarter and dominated the fourth quarter cranking out 27 more points.
Westby added six points in the third quarter (28-18) and its final seven points in the fourth. Ryan Daines led Westby with 47 yards on 11 carries, including a long touchdown late in the third quarter off a perfectly played hook and ladder toss from Carter Bergdahl.
Westby Head Coach Andy Hulst said big plays and momentum in high school football make all the difference as far as keeping kids spirits up and winning ballgames. He said offensively Westby was able to hit a few big plays that kept them in the game.
“I know people think we need to just line-up and run the ball, but when you face a stronger team like Platteville, who plays all man to man defense and literally has a free defender that we cannot block, we were forced to pass. Our passing game actually kept us in the game. If we don’t have the ability to pass the ball, then we don’t move the ball and we don’t score. We will continue to pass in order to stay balanced,” Hulst said.
Westby heads to Lancaster for non-conference action on Friday, Sept. 8. Hulst said it will be another tough and challenging game.
“Lancaster runs the option like they’ve always done with great success. The Norsemen will need to play sound on both sides and play with a lot of emotion,” Hulst said.
Platteville 55 Westby 25
Platteville 7 7 14 27 — 55
Westby 0 12 6 7 — 25
Records: W 1-2 P 3-0.