The UW-Whitewater defense limited UW-River Falls to three yards rushing, 132 yards of total offense, and UW-W took advantage of seven Falcon turnovers in a 35-0 win in front of 11,288 fans, the third largest crowd ever at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater Saturday. UW-W, 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, is ranked fifth in both national Division III polls. UW-RF is 0-5 and 0-2 in league play.
The 132 yards of total offense is the lowest UW-W has allowed since giving up 119 to UW-La Crosse September 2011. Three yards rushing is the fewest by a Warhawk opponent since Franklin College totaled minus five yards November 26, 2011. The seven turnovers is the most recorded by the Warhawk defense since forcing seven from Lakeland College September 2, 2006.
Proving the adage that the best offense is a good defense, the Warhawk defense provided one of the five touchdowns, and the longest drive the offense had to make for a score was 32 yards.
Whitewater's first score resulted from a fumble recovery by Kyle Wismer (Spring Grove, IL/Richmond-Burton) at the River Falls 27, with Wismer taking it into the end zone with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
The next Falcon possession lasted two plays, with Ryan Wenkman (Wisconsin Dells/Wisconsin Dells) picking off Ryan Kusilek's pass at the Falcon 30, bringing it back to the two. Whitewater failed to cash in on that opportunity, fumbling on the first play to turn the ball back to UW-RF.
With the ball on their own 41, River Falls attempted to punt, but punter Will Jensen muffed the snap and was forced out of bounds at the 32. Eight plays later freshman tailback Nick Patterson (Sussex/Sussex) scored from one yard out to make the lead 14-0 Whitewater with 5:03 left in the half.
Wenkman ended another Falcon offensive series with a second quarter fumble recovery, and the lead remained 14-0 at the half.
Junior linebacker Cole Klotz (Elm Grove/New Berlin Eisenhower) picked off a Kusilek pass at the Falcon 16 and returned it to the seven. On the second play following the recovery UW-W quarterback Lee Brekke (Sun Prairie/Sun Prairie) made it 21-0 with a three yard run with 7:11 left in the third period.
Facing a fourth and seven at their own 25, UW-RF lined up for a punt. A short snap went to tight end Grant Solem, who was stopped short of a first down and Whitewater took over at the 23. UW-W punched the ball in with five straight rushes by senior tailback Desmin Ward (Milwaukee/Hamilton), the last covering one yard to up Whitewater's lead to 28-0 with 1:27 remaining in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, returner Robbie Flom took the ball to the nine yard line when Oscar Johnson (Milwaukee/Riverside) knocked the ball loose, with Brandon Zolp (Adell/Kewaskum) recovering the ball to put the Warhawk offense in business at the nine. Sophomore quarterback Matt Behrendt (Westchester, IL/Nazareth) connected with Steve Morris (Racine/Horlick) for a seven yard score on the first play, ending the scoring for the day with Whitewater in front 35-0.
Early in the fourth senior linebacker David Scaro recovered a Warhawk fumble at midfield. On the next play Kusilek threw his third interception of the day, with Brady Grayvold (Norway, MI/Norway) giving Whitewater the ball at the UW-W 24. Junior linebacker Joe Paulus (Fredonia/Kewaskum) ended UW-RF's next drive with a pick at the RF 18.
The Whitewater defense was credited with 14 tackles for a loss, two sacks, three fumble recoveries and the four interceptions. Wismer led UW-W with six solo tackles, three assists, two tackles for a loss, one fumble forced and one recovered. Falcon linebacker Nate Smits led both teams with ten solo tackles, five assisted, a sack and three tackles for a loss.
UW-W will travel to Menomonie to face UW-Stout next Saturday. The next home game for the Warhawks will be October 20, when UW-Eau Claire comes to Perkins Stadium for Homecoming.