UW-Whitewater, ranked first in both national Division III polls, ran their mark to 9-0 with a 48-21 win over UW-Oshkosh at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh, Wisconsin Saturday. The win secured sole possession of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship, the sixth consecutive title for UW-Whitewater. UW-Whitewater is 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the WIAC.
Whitewater's six straight league crowns equals the mark set by UW-La Crosse between 1949-54. It is also the second longest streak of conference titles in UW-W athletics history, trailing only the Warhawk wrestling team's seven straight titles, 1974-80. The football title also assures UW-W of a berth in the NCAA III playoffs as the automatic representative of the WIAC.
The victory also extends the longest win streak in NCAA football -- any division -- to 24. UW-W has also won 16 in a row in the WIAC, and eight in a row against UW-Oshkosh.
UW-W went 69 yards on the opening drive of the game, with junior back Levell Coppage rushing ten times for 66 of those, the final three coming on his three yard run to put Whitewater in front 7-0 at 9:30.
Oshkosh responded in kind, taking the ball 79 yards in ten plays to even the score at 7-7 with 6:42 left in the first. The touchdown came on a pass from running back Cole Myhra to Garrie Fox for the final 14 yards.
Shane Covington took the ensuing kickoff back 86 yards to put Whitewater back in front 14-7. The kickoff return TD is Whitewater's first since Neil Mrkvicka returned a kick 94 yards versus Mary Hardin-Baylor October 28, 2006 in Belton, Texas.
Oshkosh failed on a fourth and five at the Whitewater 40, setting up the Warhawk offense for its next drive of 60 yards in eight plays for a 21-7 lead with 2:14 left in the half. QB Matt Blanchard hit Adam Brandes with an 11 yard toss for the score.
Oshkosh used another unusual play in its next drive, with running back Craig McClelland connecting with Paul Coburn for 33 yards. On the next play Jake Dostalek ran it in from six yards out to cut Whitewater's lead to 21-14 with 0:51 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter settled down, with the only score a 19 yard field goal by Eric Kindler with 1:07 left in the half to send Whitewater into the locker room with a 24-14 lead.
Whitewater scored the first four times it had the ball in the second half, with just their last possession of the game not producing points.
The first drive covered 64 yards in five plays, the biggest a 46 yard scoring pass from Blanchard to Brandes, their second of the day. Whitewater led 31-14 at the 11:22 mark in the third.
Oshkosh mustered an 80 yard scoring drive in reply, marching down the field on eight plays. Quarterback Nate Wara found McClelland on the other end of a scoring pass this time, from forty yards out to cut Whitewater's lead to 31-21 with 9:54 left in the third quarter.
With first and ten on the Oshkosh twenty, Whitewater gained just one yard on its next three plays to settle for a 36 yard field goal by Kindler to go up 34-21 with 7:44 in the third.
Oshkosh attempted to convert a fourth and three at Whitewater's 40, but a completed pass was stopped for no gain to turn the ball over to UW-W. Booker Stanley took a handoff on the first play and went 58 yards to the UW-O two, and then went the final two for the touchdown and a 41-21 lead with 3:21 in the third.
UW-W defensive end Wesley Hicks recovered a Titan fumble at the Oshkosh 40, and four plays later Coppage scored from seven yards out for his second score of the day and 60th of his career, adding to his school and WIAC record. It was 48-21 with 13:23 left in the game.
The 21 points scored by UW-O is the most given up by Whitewater since the 38-28 win over Mount Union in the 2009 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, and the most given up in a WIAC contest since Whitewater beat UW-La Crosse 58-21 November 14, 2009.
Whitewater, the number eight rushing offense in Division III, rushed the ball 60 times for 325 yards. The Warhawk defense, third in the national stats in rushing defense, allowed the Titans just 56 yards on 30 attempts. Whitewater passed for 165 yards, with Blanchard completing 14-19 without an interception. Oshkosh totaled 264 through the air, with Wara going 22-31 without a pick.
Coppage led both teams with 150 yards rushing on 29 attempts, 120 of those yards coming in the first half. He increased his season total to 1,007 yards, making him just the second back in school history to compile three 1,000+ rushing seasons. The other was Justin Beaver 2005-2007. Stanley added 127 on 16 carries.
Wide receivers Aaron Rusch, eight catches for 65 yards, and Brandes, 6-100, were Blanchard's primary targets. Justin Budiac caught six passes from Wara for 38 yards.
Linebacker Max Ford topped Whitewater with eight solo tackles, one half sack and one half tackle for a loss. He also broke up one pass. Oshkosh linebacker Taylor Goodman led both teams with 12 tackles and 1.5 for a loss.
UW-Oshkosh is 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the WIAC.
UW-Whitewater will conclude the regular season Saturday, November 13 against UW-La Crosse, with the kickoff set for 1:00 in Perkins Stadium. The game is the annual Shrine Game and Senior Day. Tickets can be purchased in the UW-W ticket office in the Connor University Center Monday-Friday during normal business hours, and at the Perkins Stadium ticket window on game day. Call (262) 472-2222 for ticket information.