Time of Poss.
The No. 5 ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team combined a punishing rushing attack with an opportunistic defense Saturday for a 48-0 victory over St. Norbert in the first round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs on a snowy Perkins Stadium turf.
The Warhawks (10-1 overall) advance to the tournament's second round, where they'll face sixth-ranked Wheaton (Ill.) next Saturday at a time and location to be determined.
UW-Whitewater rushed for a season-high 412 yards, its most since a 413-yard performance on Oct. 23, 2010, at UW-River Falls, and forced five turnovers by the Green Knights (10-1).
Senior running back Jordan Ratliffe paced the rushing attack with 17 carries for 159 yards and a touchdown. Freshman running back Jarrod Ware contributed 13 carries for 91 yards and a score, and freshman quarterback Canton Larson tallied five carries for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Chris Nelson threw just six times in the contest, completing four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score.
Senior linebacker Justin Dischler posted a team-high eight tackles, while junior linebacker Paul Foster recorded five stops, including one sack, and forced a fumble. Junior defensive lineman Tim Regan registered two of the Warhawks' four sacks.
Senior defensive back Ryan Winske ran an interception back for a touchdown for the second straight game. Junior defensive backs Vince Mason and Mickey Morgan also had an interception apiece.
After forcing a St. Norbert punt, Ratliffe accounted for 94 yards on UW-Whitewater's first drive of the game. Sprung by blocks from senior wide receiver Joe Worth and sophomore tight end Tony Gumina, Ratliffe ran 73 yards for a touchdown to post his sixth straight game with a first-quarter scoring run and give the team a 7-0 advantage with 8:04 left in the first quarter.
Nelson doubled the Warhawks' lead with 40 seconds left in the period on a two-yard sneak over right guard.
On his first carry of the game, Ware found a hole up the middle on third-and-1 and bursted down the sideline for a 27-yard score to give UW-Whitewater a 21-0 lead with 9:03 on the clock in the second.
Following a forced fumble by senior defensive back Dylan Morang, Larson took his first-and-10 carry 61 yards down the left sideline for another touchdown to make it 28-0 with 6:53 left in the half.
Six minutes later, Nelson hit Gumina from eight yards out to cap a 10-play, 69-yard drive and make it 35-0 headed into the locker room.
The Warhawks extended their lead in the third quarter on a 23-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Will Meyer and Winske's 19-yard pick six.
Meyer completed UW-Whitewater's scoring with a 30-yard field goal with 2:35 to play in the fourth.
Check back to uwwsports.com for the latest information on next Saturday's game against Wheaton (Ill.).