UW-Whitewater rushed for 173 yards, 110 by Levell Coppage (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park), against the number one rushing defense in Division III in a 20-0 win over the University of Saint Thomas in a NCAA III semifinal game at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater, Wisconsin Saturday. UW-W, 14-0, advances to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, the Division III championship game, against Mount Union University, 14-0, Friday, December 16 at 7:05 (Eastern).
The first time UW-W's offense was on the field the Warhawks marched 57 yards in ten plays, with senior quarterback Matt Blanchard (Lake Zurich, IL/Lake Zurich) tossing his 23rd touchdown pass of the season, this time three yards to junior fullback Bernie Tamsett (Waterford/Waterford Union) with 8:01 left in the first quarter.
UST came back with a 14 play drive. Facing a fourth and seven at Whitewater's 23, senior quarterback Dakota Tracy missed junior tight end Jon Nelson and the Warhawks took over.
On the first play following that stop, Coppage broke a 44 yard run that ended at the Saint Thomas 33. Six plays later sophomore Eric Kindler (Germantown/Germantown)'s 32 yard field goal made it 10-0 Whitewater with 13:31 in the second quarter.
Again Saint Thomas responded, using ten plays to cover 41 yards. Tim Albright's 31 yard field goal attempt was wide right.
Whitewater's next drive was (almost) all Blanchard. Blanchard, either throwing or running, accounted for 79 of the 80 yards, scoring on a five yard run with 3:57 before intermission and a 17-0 Whitewater lead. Saint Thomas had never trailed after halftime, and never trailed by more than seven points any time, this season.
After another defensive stop, the Warhawk offense traveled 54 yards on eight plays, and Eric Kindler (Germantown/Germantown) came on for a 41 yard field goal attempt with 15 seconds left in the half. Saint Thomas senior Willie Baregi blocked the attempt.
Whitewater received the second half kickoff, and moved the ball 67 yards on 16 plays, taking 7:49 off the clock, with Kindler booting a 30 yard field goal with 7:17 left in the third.
The Tommies had another long drive in the third quarter, but Warhawk junior defensive back Ryan Wenkman (Wisconsin Dells/Wisconsin Dells) picked off a Nelson pass at the Whitewater three. In the fourth quarter sophomore linebacker Kyle Wismer (Spring Grove, IL/Richmond-Burton) cut another UST drive short with an interception at Whitewater's 29.
Saint Thomas came in to the game giving up just 47.5 rushing yards per game. UW-W had 71 in the first quarter. Coppage became just the second back this season to go over the 100 yard mark against the Tommies. The last time Saint Thomas was held scoreless was November 13, 2004, a 21-0 win by Saint John's University. Wenkman led the Warhawaks with nine tackles and Wismer had eight, adding a sack, a tackle for a loss, and the interception.
Blanchard, a Gagliardi Trophy finalist, went 14-19 for 179 yards and one TD and no interceptions. Junior wide receiver Tyler Huber (Mukwonago/North Prairie) had six receptions for 109 yards.
Whitewater was 4-4 in the red zone, and Saint Thomas was 0-4 on fourth down conversions and 0-1 in the red zone.
Tracy was 11-26 for 64 yards, with two interceptions. He added 62 yards rushing on 16 carries, and senior tailback Colin Tobin rushed 17 times for 82 yards. Wideout Fritz Waldvogel, also a Gagliardi finalist, caught eight passes for 45 yards. Senior linebacker Tony Danna topped both teams with 14 tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage. Junior safety Tyler Erstad was also in double figures, with ten tackles.
The shutout was the second of the year for UW-W. The first came in a 45-0 win at Franklin College September 10 in Franklin, Indiana.