PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Despite a hard fought effort on both sides of the ball, the East Texas Baptist University football team fell to Wisconsin-Platteville, 38-30, in the opening game of the 20 season.
ETBU has a bye week before hosting Texas Lutheran University on Sept. 21.
Brian Baca led the Tiger offense as he completed 26-of-38 passes for 289 yards and four touchdown passes. Jalen Blanton hauled in six catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Tariq Gray led the Tigers in receptions as he grabbed seven passes for 70 yards and one touchdown. Samarick Paul finished with three catches for 37 yards and one touchdown, while Davion Carter also haled in three grabs for 29 yards.
Jeremiah Robertson was the leading rusher for with 39 yards and 15 carries.
On defense, Malik Mason, Devarion Guyton, and Donovan Graham each collected six tackles for the Tigers. Grant LaPoint-Teate recorded an interception, while James Wright IV had a sack.
ETBU’s first drive resulted in a three-and-out. UWP went down the field on their first possession, but missed a 33-yard field goal. The Tigers had another three-and-out on their second drive, but would force a turnover on the Pioneer’s following drive with an interception from LaPoint-Teate.
The Tigers would strike first on the next play with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Blanton. Platteville would strike back on the ensuing drive as quarterback Colin Shuetz completed an 18-yard pass to Ben Wilson on a six-play 67-yard drive.
At the start of the second quarter, UWP was able to find the end zone on a four yard touchdown run on the first play. After a Tiger turnover, UWP was able to get on the board once more with a 24-yard field goal pushing their lead to 17-7. ETBU kept it close as Kaleb Cue hit a 20-yard field goal bringing the score to 17-10 with 6:50 left in the second.
After three-and-outs by both teams, Baca connected with Paul on an 18-yard touchdown strike to tie the game heading into halftime.
Platteville struck first in the second half on a 58-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Knigge just under one minute into the third quarter. ETBU answered after Morgan Garcia recovered a fumble giving the Tigers great field position, which led to another Baca to Blanton touchdown, tying the game at 24-24 with 1:07 left in the quarter.
Platteville bounced back to start the fourth quarter on a 57-yard touchdown pass to Donald Alexander at the 13:59 mark. The Tigers once again had an answer as Baca connected with Gray for his fourth touchdown pass of the game, bringing the score to 31-30, after a missed extra point (12:17). UWP had the final answer for Tigers as Shuetz connected on his fourth TD pass of the game to Bo Babich making it 38-30 with 9:08 left to go.
ETBU had a chance to tie the game and was driving into the Platteville red zone when the Pioneers forced a fumble with just over five minutes left in the game. Platteville then ran out the clock getting key first downs in the final five minutes.