The No. 5 ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team rolled up more than 550 yards of offense and forced three turnovers defensively Saturday in a 40-10 triumph at UW-Stout in a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest in Menomonie, Wis.
The Warhawks' win, coupled with UW-Oshkosh's loss at UW-Stevens Point, clinched the program's league record 36th WIAC championship and sealed the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Playoffs, which begin Nov. 17.
Sophomore running back Alex Peete collected 15 carries for 154 yards and three touchdowns, his fourth 100-yard performance of the year and third multi-touchdown game of the season.
Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Wisniewski tallied three carries for 87 yards and one touchdown. Senior quarterback Cole Wilber tallied 179 passing yards, and nine different Warhawks caught passes from Wilber and sophomore quarterback Zach Oles.
Junior linebacker Jacob Erbs led the defense with nine tackles, one forced fumble and one pass breakup. Junior defensive back Nate Tranel posted seven tackles, and junior defensive lineman Justin Hansen totaled six stops.
The two teams exchanged punts to start the contest before UW-Whitewater (8-0 overall, 5-0 WIAC) drove 93 yards in 11 plays, taking a 7-0 lead with 5:29 left in the opening quarter on Peete's 18-yard touchdown run. Wilber completed three third-down passes to key the drive, including a 33-yarder to Peete that brought the ball near midfield.
After a three-and-out by the Blue Devils (4-4, 2-3), the Warhawks put together a 15-play, 57-yard drive capped by a 29-yard field goal from sophomore Wojciech Gasienica to make it 10-0 with 13:15 to play in the second quarter.
UW-Whitewater found the end zone later in the quarter as Peete ran around the left side for a 56-yard touchdown with 7:48 on the clock.
UW-Stout converted a field goal with 36 seconds left in the first half to draw within 17-3.
The Blue Devils opened the second half by driving inside the Warhawks' 20-yard line, but Erbs forced a fumble and senior defensive back Bailey Breunig recovered at the UW-Whitewater 16-yard line to turn the momentum.
Two plays later, Wisniewski took an end around and rumbled 81 yards to make it 24-3 midway through the third quarter.
UW-Stout sustained another long drive to the Warhawks' 20-yard line, but senior defensive back Famus Hasty blocked Drew Pearson's 37-yard field goal attempt to keep the margin at 21 points with 2:25 left in the period.
Gasienica knocked a 28-yard field goal through on the next possession for a 27-3 score with one minute to go in the third.
Peete rushed for his third touchdown of the game, a 20-yarder, at the 9:34 mark of the fourth quarter to make it 33-3.
Junior defensive back Jacob Frey picked off Sean Borgerding on the first play of the next drive to give the ball back to the offense, which drove 53 yards in six plays as junior running back Ronny Ponick ran in from five yards out with 6:53 to go in the game.
The Blue Devils found the end zone with 16 seconds remaining to account for the final margin.
UW-Whitewater hosts UW-Stevens Point next Saturday, Nov. 3, for Senior Day, Shriners Day and Military Appreciation Day at Perkins Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.