LODI — After escaping a massive first-round upset threat last week, the Lodi football team made sure not to leave any doubt against a high-powered opponent Friday night.
The top-seeded Blue Devils hit on a number of long runs and used a 28-point first quarter to roll past Platteville, 47-21, in a WIAA Division 4 second-round playoff game at Lodi High School.
“Any win you get in the playoffs is awesome, but I had a lot of nerves about this game with a team as dangerous as (Platteville),” Lodi coach Dave Puls said.
Lodi (11-0) quickly put Puls’ nerves to rest, scoring on its first four drives — including a pair of scores following three-and-outs by the Platteville offense — to jet to a 28-7 lead in the first quarter. Jacob Heyroth kicked things off with a bang, taking the first play from scrimmage 69 yards to the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead.
The 6-1, 193-pound senior running back took a handoff, found a hole and went untouched down the far sideline just 19 seconds into the game.
“Our offensive line knew they had to step up and they broke out,” Puls said. “Jacob turned the corner and he looked as fast as I’ve seen him all year. They have some fast kids on that team, and he just smoked by them.”
The Blue Devils' defense followed things up by forcing a three-and-out, giving the ball to the offense at the Lodi 49-yard line. It didn't take long for the lead to double, as Lodi scored at 8:07 on a 3-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Cameron McDonald to junior fullback Ben Rashid.
After a Platteville touchdown cut the lead to 14-7, the Blue Devils responded three plays later on another long Heyroth run. Facing a third-and-8 play, McDonald handed off to Heyroth, made a fake and let the running back do the rest. Heyroth slipped free and darted 52 yards for his second score at 6:00 to make it 21-7.
Aiming to keep its lead in double digits, the Lodi defense forced another three-and-out, and again the offense took advantage. This time, the Blue Devils drove 67 yards in 3 minutes, 49 seconds, scoring on a 5-yard Heyroth plunge (with help from a pair of third-down conversions), to make it 28-7.
Lodi kept the chains moving by converting a third-and-3 play with an 18-yard pass from McDonald to senior wide receiver Canyon Bacon, and later a third-and-8 situation with a 15-yard strike from McDonald to senior wide receiver Dom Scola.
Trailing by 21, Platteville (9-2) struck on the first play of the second quarter on a 45-yard toss from senior quarterback Ethan Bernhardt to senior wide receiver Donovan Blevins to make it 28-14 with 11:49 left in the first half. Both defenses dug in from there, as the teams traded possessions but didn’t score again until after halftime.
The Hillmen had a great chance late in the first half, driving inside the Blue Devils’ 30, but failed to score after four consecutive incomplete passes. Platteville took the second-half kickoff, but Lodi’s defense forced a three-and-out.
For both Puls and senior linebacker Max Barreau, the stop to start the final 24 minutes was crucial.
“I told the kids, ‘This is the drive. If you find a way to stop them on this drive, we’re going to find a way to win this game. But if you don’t, their momentum is going to be through the roof,’” Puls said. “That opening second half stop by our defense was critical.”
“It was a really big stop to get us back in the game and keep them out of it,” Barreau said.
And just like in the first half, Lodi took advantage of the defensive stand, scoring on the ensuing drive with a Heyroth 2-yard touchdown plunge on a fourth-and-1 play to make it 34-14 with 5:08 left in the third. Two more scores in the fourth put things away.
Heyroth was dominant again, rushing for 334 yards and five touchdowns on 29 carries after going for 295 yards and three scores in a first-round victory over Mayville. Heyroth now has 2,232 yards and 30 touchdowns on the season.
But the Blue Devils' defense was just as important. Lodi kept the high-scoring Hillmen, who were averaging 40.1 points per game, to just 21 points and 268 yards, including 32 yards rushing.
“The preparation we had all week with our defensive backs and linemen getting pressure really helped us in this game,” Barreau said.
Lodi next faces a rematch with Capitol North Conference foe Lake Mills after the No. 3 seed L-Cats (10-1) knocked off Racine St. Catherine’s 30-13. The Blue Devils won the regular-season meeting between the two teams, 55-24, but Puls knows his team can’t dwell on past accomplishments.
“You can throw that first game out of the book; it doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “It’s a whole new ballgame, it’s a whole new team and they’re going to want revenge.”
LODI 47, PLATTEVILLE 21
Platteville 7 7 0 7 — 21
Lodi 28 0 6 13 — 47
L — Jacob Heyroth 69 run (Savannah Curtis kick)
L — Ben Rashid 3 pass from Cameron McDonald (Savannah Curtis kick)
P — Donovan Blevins 11 pass from Ethan Bernhardt (Zach White kick)
L — Jacob Heyroth 52 run (Savannah Curtis kick)
L — Jacob Heyroth 5 run (Savannah Curtis kick)
P — Donovan Blevins 45 pass from Ethan Bernhardt (Zach White kick)
L — Jacob Heyroth 2 run (kick failed)
L — Mitchell Nellen 25 run (pass failed)
P — Ethan Bernhardt 1 run (Zach White kick)
L — Jacob Heyroth 45 run (Savannah Curtis kick)
First downs — P 8, L 12. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — P 20-32, L 49-385. Passing yards — P 236, L 98. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — P 14-30-1, L 6-11-0. Fumbles-lost — P 0-0, L 0-0. Penalties-yards — P 5-35, L 6-60.
Rushing: P, Barner 10-52. L, Heyroth 29-334. Passing: P, Bernhardt 13-29-1-208. L, McDonald 6-11-0-98. Receiving: P, Blevins 4-96. L, Scola 2-54.