after leading 16-13 at the half, Wheaton College scored 21 unanswered third-quarter points, pulling away to beat UW-Platteville 51-20 Saturday night.
The host Thunder, ranked one spot outside of the D3football.com top 25, improved to 2-0 overall, while the Pioneers suffered their first loss in three games.
Scott Roche's 40-yard field goal on the last play of the first half gave the Thunder the 16-13 lead. Wheaton then scored three third quarter touchdowns: a Rocky Gingg 2-yard run; a 33-yard pass from Garrett Meador to Teddy Watkins; and a 78-yard interception return by Bryan McBroom.
The Pioneers' Nick Anderson scored on a nine-yard touchdown run 1:26 into the fourth quarter, but the Thunder came back with an 80-yard punt return by Tyler Langs and a one-yard Gingg run for touchdowns.
Hank McIvor had given the Pioneers a 7-3 first-quarter advantage with a 26-yard rushing touchdown, and Zach Litchfield converted second-quarter field goals of 30 and 36 yards.
The Pioneers actually held statistical advantage in yards (412-389), first downs (24-20), and time of possession (34:17-25:43). Anderson threw for 268 yards, and McIvor rushed for 77 to lead the offense. Brian Snyder paced the defense with 10 tackles.
The task gets no easier for the Pioneers, who host top-ranked and defending NCAA III national champion UW-Whitewater Thursday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m.