/playoffs/2013/whitewater-jake-kumerow-rising-to-the-occasion

Rising to the occasion

More news about: UW-Whitewater
After getting hit on the goal line in midseason, Jake Kumerow had a couple of down weeks. But he's scored six touchdowns in the playoffs, including three vs. Linfield.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

By Brian Lester
D3sports.com

Jake Kumerow has owned a lot of matchups this season. It's why he has turned into UW-Whitewater's top receiving threat.

So the fact that he rose to the occasion in the fifth-ranked Warhawks' 28-17 come-from-behind win over Linfield in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA playoffs on Saturday is not a surprise at all.

Kumerow made three big-time catches in three big-time moments as he caught the final three touchdown passes of the game to cap a thrilling rally and put Whitewater on the doorstep of its first national championship game since 2011.

Kumerow, who finished the day with seven catches for 149 yards, including a 25-yard scoring strike in the third quarter that put the Warhawks ahead to stay 21-17,  said his success against Linfield all came down to winning the matchup.

"I knew I had the advantage because they were playing one-on-one, and I knew I could make plays if I just attacked the coverage," Kumerow said. "We work hard every day in practice on executing our offense and we definitely did that when it mattered on Saturday."

It could have gone so much differently for Whitewater last weekend. The Warhawks (13-0) fell behind 17-0 and overcoming a deficit that big in the postseason is anything but easy.

Yet, with quarterback Matt Behrendt throwing for 275 yards and four touchdowns and the defense posting a shutout in the second half and allowing 398 total yards, Whitewater roared back to life.

"We had our backs to the wall," said sixth-year head coach Lance Leipold. "But we didn't panic. We went about our business and fought back. I have to give a lot of credit to our assistant coaches. They had us stick with what we had done all year and we found a way to win."

Kumerow certainly played a big part in the success, but he has been stepping up all season, illustrating just how far he has come as a wide receiver since transferring in from the University of Illinois last year.

In 2012, Kumerow, who saw time as a backup at Illinois, caught only 21 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns.

It's been a decidedly different story this season. Kumerow is in a zone. Through 13 games, he has made 69 catches and has racked up 1,198 yards. He has 17 touchdown catches as well.

"Jake has certainly been a pleasant story for us," Leipold said. "It's been neat to watch his transformation in the way he has approached the game and his academics. He has made a lot of strides and has matured a great deal. He's worked hard on and off the field, including in the weight room, and pays so much more attention to detail."

Kumerow wasn't sure where he was headed after he left Illinois, but he had a pretty good idea of where he wanted to continue his football career.

Whitewater had been familiar to him because his sister, Cortney, was a star basketball player at the school, helping the Warhawks finish last season as the national runner-up.

"I originally looked into coming here out of high school," Kumerow said. "I had gone up there a lot to watch my sister play basketball and I really liked the school. I knew if I ever needed to transfer, Whitewater was my best option. They take football seriously here and have had a lot of success."

Jake Kumerow's dad, Eric Kumerow, was an NFL first-round draft pick and played for the Dolphins and the Bears.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

Kumerow said he and his sister were competitive growing up and share a tight relationship.

"We are definitely very close and she is a great athlete," Kumerow said. "I'm glad I was able to end up here, too."

At the time Kumerow arrived on campus, Whitewater was coming off its third consecutive national championship. But the Warhawks didn't make the playoffs in 2012 and it hurt.

"We thought we could just coast through the season because of what we had done in the past, but obviously you can't do that and expect to be successful," Kumerow said. "We all came back hungry. We put in a lot of time in the offseason and worked hard in practice."

The hard work has certainly paid off for the Warhawks, who will square off with third-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-0) on Saturday in Texas in a national semifinal at Crusader Stadium. It will be the third playoff meeting between the two schools. The Warhawks won both times, winning 16-7 in 2007 and picking up a 39-13 win a year later.

The hard work has also paid off for Kumerow, who said the addition of wide receivers coach Alan Hensell has made a major impact in how he has played this season.

"He's really taken advantage of the talent we have at receiver and has utilized us the right way," Kumerow said. "He has put us in a great position to make plays."

The time Kumerow dedicated to offseason workouts didn't hurt either.

"I improved myself as an all-around player," Kumerow said. "I've gotten stronger, I've done a better job of making plays and I have a better understanding of the offense and what it takes to be successful at this level."

Kumerow and the Warhawks will need to take their game to another level to have success against the Crusaders on the road. Leipold said it's no secret what his team has to do to survive and advance in the postseason one more time.

"We have to be sound in all three phases of the game," Leipold said. "We can't give up big plays, we have to be good in special teams and we have to find a way to make some big plays. Mary Hardin-Baylor is an outstanding football team and we know them pretty well. Playing them on the road will be a challenge, but it's a challenge we are looking forward to."

Although making a long trip can take its toll on a team, especially this late in the year when the wear and tear of a long season is a little bit tougher to deal with, Leipold said the trip does have its advantages.

"The players are excited because they get to get on a charter plane and fly to a game, which is something that doesn't happen too often for Division III athletes," Leipold said. "It also gives us a chance to get closer as a team. We're excited about the opportunity and our players will be ready to go."

Whether a trip to Salem is up next for the Warhawks remains to be seen.

But what is for certain is that Kumerow is ready to embrace the opportunity and hopes to continue to help his team build on what it has already accomplished during this bounce-back year for a program with a great deal of pride and tradition.

"We're happy to still be playing and we know that every team at this point is very good," Kumerow said. "We've worked hard to get here and we know we are going to have to be at our best to get a win this week. We've stayed focused all year and we will be focused on this game only this week. Hopefully we can do enough to get the win and have a shot at the title."

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Framingham State 50, Massachusetts Maritime 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Muhlenberg 56, at Juniata 40
Video Box Score
Final
at Dean 25, Becker 10
Box Score
Final
Salisbury 27, at TCNJ 7
Box Score
Final
MIT 38, at Catholic 21
Video Box Score
Final
Merchant Marine 56, at Maine Maritime 31
Video Box Score
Final
at Hobart 34, Endicott 17
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Morrisville State 44, Nichols 22
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Albright 9, Widener 7
Video
Final
Christopher Newport 16, at Montclair State 8
Video Box Score
Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 41, Bethany 14
Video
Final
Middlebury 41, at Bowdoin 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Williams 24, at Colby 7
Video Box Score
Final
Amherst 36, at Hamilton 6
Video Box Score
Final
Ursinus 35, at Moravian 17
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Trinity (Conn.) 51, at Bates 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at LaGrange 38, Brevard 28
Video Box Score
Final
Geneva 33, at Thiel 24
Video
Final
at Plymouth State 37, Mass-Dartmouth 7
Video Box Score
Final
Kean 28, at Southern Virginia 14
Video Box Score
Final
Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Union 17, at Curry 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Carnegie Mellon 37, Thomas More 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Lycoming 44, at King's 41
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Western New England 21, Husson 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at DePauw 51, Wooster 24
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Ohio Wesleyan 37, Allegheny 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Misericordia 43, Wilkes 14
Video
Final
at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 35, Maryville (Tenn.) 25
Video Box Score
Final
Huntingdon 31, at Ferrum 28
Video Video Box Score
Final - OT
at McDaniel 27, Gettysburg 20
Video Video Preview Box Score
Final
at Buffalo State 33, RPI 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Franklin and Marshall 27, at Susquehanna 24
Video Box Score
Final
at Denison 45, Oberlin 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 10, Westminster (Mo.) 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Eureka 44, Crown 20
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Lebanon Valley 24, FDU-Florham 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Ohio Northern 35, Otterbein 7
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Rose-Hulman 37, Defiance 14
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Marietta 49, Muskingum 25
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Franklin 59, at Bluffton 30
Box Score
Final
at Hanover 64, Anderson 21
Video
Final
Mount St. Joseph 31, at Manchester 14
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Worcester State 34, at Westfield State 10
Video Box Score
Final
Coast Guard 13, at Norwich 9
Video Box Score
Final
at Fitchburg State 31, Bridgewater State 29
Video Box Score
Final
Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
Video Box Score
Final
at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
Video Video Box Score
Final
North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Millsaps 17, Sewanee 13
Video Box Score
Final
at Rhodes 35, Birmingham-Southern 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hendrix 36, Austin 24
Video Box Score
Final
at Martin Luther 34, Greenville 20
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Trinity (Texas) 41, Chapman 35
Video Preview Box Score Live stats
Final
at Loras 73, Buena Vista 34
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Wartburg 30, Washington U. 20
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Gustavus Adolphus 51, Hamline 7
Video Box Score
Final
Augsburg 48, at Carleton 28
Video Box Score
Final
at Bethel 64, St. Olaf 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Luther 21, Dubuque 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Central 52, Nebraska Wesleyan 27
Video Box Score
Final
Simpson 38, at Coe 33
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
Recap Recap Box Score Video
Final
St. Norbert 66, at Grinnell 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Knox 13, Ripon 6
Video
Final
at MacMurray 32, Iowa Wesleyan 14
Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
Box Score
Final
Southwestern 37, at Louisiana College 34
Video Box Score
Final
Monmouth 26, at Macalester 0
Video Box Score
Final
at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Springfield 42, WPI 10
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Cornell 55, Beloit 36
Video
Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hartwick 24, St. John Fisher 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-La Crosse 41, Carroll 6
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Scholastica 37, Minnesota-Morris 3
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at George Fox 44, UW-Eau Claire 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Western Connecticut 37, Salve Regina 23
Video Box Score
Final
at UW-Stevens Point 41, Adrian 28
Video Box Score
Final - OT
at Wesleyan 24, Tufts 17
Video Preview Box Score
Final
at Averett 35, Methodist 6
Video Box Score
Final
at Berry 28, Centre 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
Video Box Score
Final
at Grove City 24, St. Vincent 14
Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
Video
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Carthage 55, at Augustana 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Chicago 28, at Illinois College 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Sul Ross State 35, McMurry 7
Final - OT
at Wilmington 37, Capital 30
Video Preview Box Score
Final
Lake Forest 42, at Lawrence 26
Video Video Box Score
Final
at East Texas Baptist 79, Belhaven 40
Final
Arizona Christian 56, at Whittier 38
Video Box Score
Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
Video Box Score
Final
Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
Video Box Score
Final
at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
Video Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
Box Score
Final
North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
Recap Recap Box Score Video
Final
at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
Video
Final
at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
Video Box Score Recap