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Thomas More rallies from 21-0 deficit, upsets No. 16 Wisconsin-Platteville, 35-28

By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

Staring at a 21-0 deficit in the first quarter, it appeared Thomas More College was about to suffer a humbling defeat on Saturday in its home opener against nationally ranked Wisconsin-Platteville.

Instead, Thomas More roared from behind and tied the game by halftime, and then drove 80 yards for the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter to pull off a 35-28 upset of the 16th-ranked Pioneers at BB&T Field in Crestview Hills.

Hjavier Pitts capped the incredible comeback for Thomas More with a 28-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Justin Post with 5:01 remaining in the game. Pitts caught a screen pass in the right flat, eluded several tacklers then cut back across the field and rambled in for the go-ahead score.

Hjavier Pitts

The Saints (2-1) defense then survived a final Wisconsin-Platteville drive that ended inside the Thomas More 10-yard line. With a first and goal at the Thomas More 8-yard line, Wisconsin-Platteville quarterback Colin Schuetz threw four straight incomplete passes. The Saints took possession and ran out the clock, giving head coach Trevor Stellman his second consecutive win.

Wisconsin-Platteville (1-1) scored three touchdowns in the opening quarter to jump out to a 21-0 lead. Schuetz threw for a touchdown, while Mark Johnson and Bo Babich each rushed for a score.

Pitts helped ignite the Thomas More comeback with a touchdown in the second quarter. The Saints then turned the game around by scoring two touchdowns in the final 2:25 of the half — one a 43-yard interception return by Steven Everson and the other a 35-yard touchdown pass from Post to Logan Winkler with just nine seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 21-21.

Wisconsin-Platteville regained the lead early in the third quarter when Schuetz connected with wide receiver Donald Allender for a 10-yard touchdown pass, making it 28-21. Thomas More, however, responded on Luke Zajac’s 17-yard touchdown run to tie the contest at 28-all.

That set the stage for Pitts, who scored the winning touchdown to cap an 80-yard drive that took more than six minutes off the clock. It came after the Thomas More special teams made a big play, blocking a Wisconsin-Platteville field goal attempt that could have given the Pioneers the lead.

Pitts carried the ball 16 times for 123 yards and one touchdown, and he added three receptions for 38 yards and another score. Zajac rushed for 65 yards on 17 carries, while Post was 11-of-21 passing for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

Thomas More finished with 362 total yards, while Wisconsin-Platteville gained 448 total yards. Schuetz passed for 372 yards to lead the Pioneers, who were coming off a season-opening 59-44 win at East Texas Baptist on Aug. 30. The Pioneers gained 567 total yards in that game and rallied from a 37-17 halftime deficit to post the road victory.

Saturday marked the first meeting between Thomas More and Wisconsin-Platteville on the football field.

Thomas More hits the road next Saturday to meet Huntingdon College at 2 p.m. in Montgomery, Alabama.

Thomas More…..0-21-7-7—35

Scoring Summary:
UWP-Mark Johnson 20 yd pass from Colin Schuetz (Michael Pratl kick)
UWP-Bo Babich 6 yd run (Michael Pratl kick)
UWP-Mark Johnson 20 yd run (Michael Pratl kick)
TM-Hjavier Pitts 4 yd run (Cole Mathias kick)
TM-Steven Everson 43 yd interception return (Cole Mathias kick)
TM-Logan Winkler 35 yd pass from Justin Post (Cole Mathias kick)
UWP-Donald Allender 10 yd pass from Colin Schuetz (Michael Pratl kick)
TM-Luke Zajac 17 yd run (Cole Mathias kick)
TM-Hjavier Pitts 28 yd pass from Justin Post (Cole Mathias kick)

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