Blackhawks beat Hillmen on homecoming, secure playoff berth

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Prairie's Tyler Smock tries to break away from a Platteville defender Friday night. (Photos by Ted Pennekamp)

Sam Fernberg (54) and Reid Koenig (23) stop the Hillmen ballcarrier short.

The Prairie du Chien defense was tough all night. Here, three Blackhawks send the Hillmen runner backwards to the ground.

Prairie's Mason Kramer catches a touchdown pass against visiting Platteville Friday night to help secure a playoff berth for the Blackhawks.

 

By Zach Mara

 

The Prairie du Chien Blackhawks rounded up their Homecoming Week festivities by hosting the Platteville Hillmen on Friday night. The cool, crisp night provided a great atmosphere for the Hawks’ student section to sport their camouflage attire and cheer on their Blackhawks (6-1, 3-0). 

The Hawks used this energy to pound the ball against the Hillmen’s (5-2, 1-2) defense and punch their ticket into the playoffs with a huge 27-6 homecoming victory.

The Hawks won the toss and deferred, giving Platteville the opening possession from their own 30-yard line. The Hillmen marched down the field, dumping off screen-pass after screen-pass to get all the way down to the PdC 6-yard line. After Grant Martin and Zachary Swiggum stepped up and made huge plays on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd downs, the Hillmen faced 4th-and-goal from the 30-yard line. The Hawks stuffed the 4th-down attempt, but turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing drive after the Hillmen shut down a fake-punt attempt by PdC.

The Hillmen’s pride didn’t last long however, as the Hawks’ defense forced a quick 3-and-out, and Gavin Gillitzer hit Mason Kramer for a 76 yard TD pass to open the scoring. The PAT was no good, but the Hawks had taken a 6-0 lead with 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter.

After forcing another punt, the Hawks began to use a ground-and-pound approach until they found themselves deep in Platteville territory. Then, following a 20-yard pass to Mitchell Luster, Gillitzer found Kramer for their second TD connection of the night. Clayton DuCharme’s extra-point was successful, and the Hawks had a 13-0 lead. After the teams exchanged punts, the Hillmen again began to drive down the field until Reid Koenig intercepted a pass at the PdC 1 to give the Hawks the ball with 0:44 left in the first half. On the second play of the drive, Ben Riter jumped up and made a spectacular catch for a 38-yard gain. After two pre-snap penalties on the Hawks, they would be forced to attempt a Hail Mary in order to add another score before the half. Gillitzer dropped back and bought some time, but pressure by the D-Line forced him to throw the ball away and take a 13-0 lead into halftime.

The Hawks didn’t waste any time getting in the end zone to start the second half, as a long return by Tyler Smock set up the Hawks’ drive at the Platteville 25-yard line. Four plays later, Smock finished what he started, running the ball in from 8 yards out to extend the lead to 20-0 after the successful PAT. 

The teams exchanged punts again, and Dylan Coleman’s punt pinned the Hillmen deep in their own territory. However, 7 plays later, the Hillmen were once again deep in PdC territory, but Mason Kramer decided enough was enough and jumped up to grab an interception at the PdC 12-yard line.

The Hawks would put together a systematic, 8:31 drive to open the fourth quarter, but eventually turned the ball over on downs deep in Hillmen territory. Two plays later, Ben Riter became the 3rd Blackhawk to record an interception in the game, running in front of an outside route to grab the INT. Three plays later, Gillitzer and Kramer hooked up once again to give the duo 3 touchdowns on the night. 

With 2:32 remaining and a 27-0 lead, the Blackhawks turned to the VR squad to wrap up the game. 

The Hillmen would manage to get on the board against the VR defense, but they failed on the two-point attempt as the Blackhawks wrapped up a playoff-clinching 27-6 victory.

Tyler smock led the running backs with 19 carries for 98 yards and 1 touchdown. Gavin Gillitzer was 10-16 in the air for 264 yards and 3 touchdown passes. Mason Kramer caught all 3 of those TDs to go along with 143 yards to lead the receivers. Ben Riter hauled in 2 passes for 80 yards, and Mitchell Luster caught 2 passes for 41 yards. Reid Koenig led the defense with 10 tackles and 1 INT. Keenan Holley added 8 tackles, and Grant Martin contributed 7 tackles and 1 sack in the victory.

The Blackhawks will look to improve to 4-0 in conference as they take on the perennial-powerhouse Flying Arrows (5-2, 2-1) in Lancaster on Friday night. Game time is 7 p.m.

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