UW-Whitewater closed out the regular season with a 17-3 win over UW-La Crosse Saturday at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater. UW-W, 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the WIAC, now awaits word on the NCAA III championship playoffs, which we will begin Saturday, November 19. UW-W expects to receive a home game, but the opponent and time won't be known until late Sunday.
Midway through the first quarter UW-W started a drive on its 33 yard line. The Warhawks advanced to the UW-L 14, where the drive stalled. Eric Kindler (Germantown/Germantown) put the first points on the board with a 23-yard field goal with 1:36 left in the quarter.
La Crosse took the ensuing kickoff out to the 41. The Eagles used six plays to put the ball on Whitewater's 23, but with a first and ten Andy Sires went for the end zone and Warhawk defensive back Ryan Wenkman (Wisconsin Dells/Wisconsin Dells) picked it off at the two.
The Eagles forced Whitewater to go three and out, and after a punt were set up with the offense starting at Whitewater's 45 yard line. Ten plays later UW-L was facing a fourth and 18 at the 33, and the Eagles faked a punt but the ball carrier was stopped short.
Whitewater turned that play around and went on its longest drive of the day, made even longer by two penalties on the Warhawks. Matt Blanchard (Lake Zurich, IL/Lake Zurich) threw the ball six times in the drive, completing five for 50 yards. Blanchard and Luke Menzel (Sheboygan Falls/Oostburg) combined for the final 13 yards with one minute remaining in the half to send Whitewater into the lockerroom with a 10-0 lead.
Whitewater's first drive of the second half started on their own 26. A nine play drive which included five Blanchard passes for 61 yards, ended with a Levell Coppage (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park) 6 yard TD run. To make the score 17-0 with 9:15 left in the third quarter.
On the next possession Whitewater moved the ball again going from it's 42 to the La Crosse 20 on 8 plays. With fourth and four at the 20 Kindler's field goal attempt was wide left.
Kindler's kickoff went through the endzone and La Crosse took the ball at their 20. Two plays later Sires hit Jake Welch for 31 yards to the Whitewater 44. Nine plays later, Justin Huinker kicked a 24-yard field goal to put La Crosse on the board 17-3 with 4:02 left in the game.
Whitewater limited UW-La Crosse to 182 yards including 69 yards rushing on 29 attempts. Sires was 15-22 for 113 yards, five of those passes caught by wide receiver Tony Bilderback for 35 yards. Whitewater also didn't have much success running, rushing the ball 32 times for 103 yards. With La Crosse defense keying on the running game, Blanchard completed 26-34 passes for 269 yards. Both the attempts and completions are season highs for Blanchard, the WIAC leader in passing efficiency. Junior wideout Tyler Huber (Mukwonago/North Prairie) caught a team season high 10 receptions. The Warhawks controlled the clock, converting 8-14 third downs and holding possession for 35:32. Free safety Jake Meckstroth lead both teams with 16 tackles, 9 of them solo. Warhawk linebacker Greg Arnold (Big Bend/Mukwonago) was credited with 10 tackles including 1.5 tackles for a loss.
Whitewater extended it's win streak to 40 games, the longest active streak in college football. The streak also moved into a tie with the University of Washington (1908-1914) for the fifth longest in NCAA history, any Division.
Whitewater has earned seven consecutive Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association Division III titles, advancing through the NCAA III playoffs the last six years to the championship game, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, where the Warhawks won national titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
For additional information: Lance Leipold, UW-W coach