MADISON, Wisconsin — After starting the season with three consecutive losses, falling behind by one touchdown was no big deal for the resilient Winneconne Wolves.
Riley Kallas ran for two scores and hauled in a touchdown pass to lift Winneconne to a 28-14 victory over Platteville on Thursday night in the WIAA Division 4 title game at Camp Randall Stadium.
"We love being the underdogs and we came out on top," said Kallas, who also added an interception on defense. "That first game of the playoffs we knew we had something special and we took advantage of it. We took advantage of the opportunity and made the most of it."
It was the first state title for the Wolves (9-5), who had to win their final two games to qualify for the playoffs.
Platteville (9-5) opened with a 72-yard scoring drive, largely through the air. Senior quarterback Logan Butson completed passes of 14, 27 and 25 yards, capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Derek Schambow.
"We had some things we thought we could hit on them through the air, and we did," said Platteville coach Scott Statz. "We were executing really nicely early on, but we just couldn't sustain enough of a run game to keep them honest with our play-action stuff."
Winneconne's Peter Buyeske returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards to the Hillmen 5-yard line to set up the tying touchdown run by Mitchell Markert.
"That was a big play. We knew we had to win the special teams battle because their defense is so good," Statz said. "To have them get a big special teams play did swing the momentum early."
The Wolves took the lead for good late in the first quarter with a 36-yard scoring drive following a short punt. A 32-yard pass from Mitchel Fenrich to Kallas on third-and-18 was the key play. Kallas capped the drive with a 1-yard run to make it 14-7.
Kallas shook free for a 58-yard touchdown run with 5:00 left in the half to extend the lead to 21-7.
Kallas added a 39-yard touchdown reception from Fenrich in the third quarter. Jacob Bernhardt had a 15-yard touchdown run for Platteville in the fourth quarter.
"We made the plays as a team, it wasn't just me. Everybody as a team," said Kallas, who had six receptions for 120 yards and 58 yards rushing on seven carries. "We knew what we had to do, control the ball, no turnovers and we got the job done."