Warhawks Top La Crosse in WIAC Opener
Whitewater's defense forced a three-and-out on La Crosse's opening drive. The Warhawks' first drive of the game started on their own 27 yard line. UW-W would move the ball 70 yards into field goal range for Eric Kindler who put the Warhawks on the board with three with just under ten minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Eagles answered with a field goal of their own to tie the game 3-3 with six minutes to go in the opening quarter. Neither team could get much going offensively until part way into the second quarter.
After the Warhawk defense forced another UW-L three-and-out, a short punt gave UW-W the ball on the La Crosse 44 yard line. Whitewater marched 44 yards in seven plays capped by a 21-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Huber for the score. Kindler's point after gave the Warhawks a 10-3 lead.
The Eagles offense must have had a feeling of deja vu as they took the field for three plays but were forced to punt. UW-L's punt pinned Whitewater down inside their own 20. Whitewater went to the running backs eight times in fourteen plays but the big play of the drive was a 24 yard toss from Matt Behrendt to Tyler Huber. Huber stretched for the endzone but was called down on the one-yard line. Jordan Ratliffe punched the ball in on the next play. Kindler gave Whitewater a 17-3 lead to head into the locker room.
UW-W's offense kept the momentum on the Whitewater side of the field with a 93-yard touchdown drive to open the second half. Despite a slight set back after a 79 yard touchdown pass was called back on a penalty, Behrendt led UW-W down the field to extend the lead. Behrendt accounted for 58 yards on the drive completing four passes for 46 yards and using his feet for 12 more. Ratliffe's 11-yard scamper made the Whitewater lead 20 and Kindler's extra point extended the lead to 24-3.
Whitewater's next scoring drive started with 2:20 left in the third quarter. The Warhawks kept the ball on the ground rushing for 19 yards on three plays but a penalty pushed the Warhawks back to their own 29 to end the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Behrendt found Jake Kumerow for his team leading fourth touchdown reception this season, this one for 70 yards. The extra point from Kindler sailed through the uprights for a 31-3 UW-W lead.
The Warhawk defense kept the pressure on forcing a safety after a high snap sailed over the Eagles' punter and through the back of the endzone with just over six minutes remaining.
The icing on the cake came on the kickoff immediately after the safety. Justin Howard caught the ball at the Whitewater 23 yard line and pushed up the sideline near the UW-W bench for 77 yards and the score. Kindler made it a nine-point swing with the extra point giving Whitewater a 40-3 lead.
UW-W showed why it has one of the top turnover margins in the nation forcing a fumble on a punt return that Dylan Morang recovered in the endzone for six more. Kindler wrapped up the scoring in the game with the point after to extend Whitewater's lead to 47-3.
UW-W accumulated 560 yards of offense including 355 through the air and 205 on the ground. Whitewater's defense held UW-L to just 137 yards of offense and seven first downs in the game.
Behrendt was 25-36 with 355 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Nick Patterson led the Warhawks on the ground with 93 yards on 16 rushes. Kumerow caught five Behrendt passes for 147 yards and a score. Cole Klotz led UW-W defensively with nine tackles, four solo and five assisted, and a tackle for a loss of one yard.
The Warhawks will host UW-Stout for Whitewater's annual Family Fest Saturday, October 12 at 2:30 in Perkins Stadium.