#1 Warhawks Retain Pick-Axe With Win Over Platteville
Number one UW-Whitewater defeated UW-Platteville 34-14 Saturday before 10, 632 fans at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater, Wisconsin, running the nation's longest win streak to 34 games. The win is also Whitewater's seventh straight over UW-P. UW-W is 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Platteville is 3-2 and 1-1 in league play.
Whitewater's first drive ended with an interception, Platteville's Nate Breiby picking off Matt Blanchard in the end zone for a touchback. It was Blanchard's first pick since the Warhawks' last regular season game in 2010 (Blanchard missed last year's playoffs because of an injury), a string of 66 passes over five games.
Platteville took the ball on their 20 and used six plays to jump in front 7-0. A pass from junior quarterback John Kelly to Ryley Bailey covered 47 yards to put the ball at Whitewater's 24, and two plays later Kelly hit Paul Reit for the 26 yard score with 5:49 left in the first quarter.
Whitewater took the next kickoff and used ten plays, eight rushes by senior tailback Levell Coppage and a Blanchard to Coppage pass to consume 5:21. Coppage pushed over from the two for the tying score with 0:23 in the first.
In the second quarter UW-W mounted another drive, this one covering 92 yards in 12 plays, with Blanchard and Tyler Huber connecting with 0:59 left in the half to put Whitewater in front 14-7.
Platteville made the most of the fleeting time remaining. The Pioneers pulled a play out of the sandlot ("you're the bottlecap, and you're this stick"), Kelly throwing a lateral to running back Chad Roscoe and Roscoe hitting a wide open Reit for the 35 yard score with just 0:14 left in the half as the teams entered the locker room tied 14-14.
The tie marked the first time UW-W had not led at the intermission since a 7-7 tie at North Central College in the NCAA III playoff quarterfinals December 4, 2010.
Whitewater opened the second half with a drive that ended with an Eric Kindler field goal -- that may have been a good omen for the Warhawks. Kindler's 47 yard attempt hit the crossbar and bounced through to put UW-W in front 17-14 at 9:49 in the third.
The Warhawk defense took heart, and stopped Platteville three times for a total of minus two yards as the Poineers went for it from their 41.
UW-W took over and Kindler converted again, this time from 44 yards with 6:21 in the third for a 20-14 Warhawk lead.
UW-P and two incomplete passes gave the ball back to UW-W at the 37.
And again, the Warhawk offense made it count. A Blanchard to Jason Ford pass gained 23 yards, and five running plays put the ball in the end zone. Desmin Ward pushed several defenders, and a pile of bodies for the last couple of yards on a 12 yard run at 0:35 in the third for a 27-14 lead.
The Pioneers moved into Whitewater territory, but for the third time the Whitewater defense held UW-P on third and fourth down.
And yet again, Whitewater's offense made the most of the opportunity. Despite three penalties, UW-W's offense managed to score, or maybe it was the unique ability of Coppage. On the scoring play Coppage started to the left, then reversed his field, received a block from Blanchard, and out-ran the Platteville defense for 41 yards to end the drive, 34-14.
Whitewater gained 270 yards on the ground, averaging 5.6 yards per rush. Coppage, a three time All-American, rushed 30 times for 168 yards, his biggest output of the season. Coppage, with 6,019 yards in his career, became just the second back in WIAC history to pass 6,000. Whitewater's Justin Beaver (2004-2007) holds the school and league record with 6,584 yards. The rushing game allowed Whitewater to control the ball for 37:09.
Huber, a junior wideout, caught seven Blanchard (15-20-166) passes. Senior linebacker Greg Arnold led the Warhawks with 12 tackles plus two tackles for a loss.
Kelly was 8-24 for 146 yards, adding 52 more on nine rushes to lead Platteville. Reit had four receptions for 81 yards. Sophomore lineman Alex Schaefer and freshman linebacker Jacob Zilbar both recorded ten tackles for UW-P, and Schaefer added two tackles for a loss.
The George Chryst Game recognizes an outstanding defensive and offensive player for each team. Reit and Zilbar were honored by UW-P, Coppage and Arnold were chosen for UW-W.
The win also pushes UW-W's streak to 23 at Perkins Stadium and 18 in the WIAC.
Saturday's crowd is the fourth largest in school, and Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference history. UW-W also holds the top three, including the record 12, 189 set versus UW-Stout October 9 last year.