Wisconsin-Whitewater Captures Sixth Title In 8 Years
Wisconsin-Whitewater has done it again. Wisconsin-Whitewater captures sixth title in 8 years after defeating Mount Union 43-34 on Friday night. Whitewater has now beaten Mount Union the last 5 times they met in the Division 3 National Championship.
The game began with Whitewater driving down for a touchdown when Matt Behrendt hit Justin Howard for a 12 yard score. The extra point was blocked and the score was 6-0 after six minutes were played. After a punt by Mount Union, the Warhawks made it 13-0 with Behrendt finding Ricky Finco for a 7 yard touchdown. The Purple Raiders finally got on the board with Kevin Burke connecting on a 26 yard touchdown to Luc Meacham to cut the deficit to 13-7.
The second quarter began with missed field goals from both teams. Mount Union’s second drive ended with Burke being picked off by Brady Grayvold, who took it back 25 yards for a touchdown and 20-7 Whitewater lead. Mount Union scored right away with Burke hitting Taurice Scott for a 5 yard touchdown, but the final minute was a disaster for the Purple Raiders.
After forcing a punt, Burke and Scott connected on a short 7 yard throw and catch. Scott fumbled and it was recovered by Marcus McLin. The first play by the Warhawks was a 17 yard touchdown pass from Behrendt to Jake Kumerow. The next drive for Mount Union was an interception by McLin at the 28 yard line. The Warhawks got a 23 yard field goal from Lake Bachar to lead 30-14 at halftime.
In the second half, Mount Union got the ball to start and they cut into the lead with a quick touchdown. Roman Namdar was able to get by the cornerback to catch a 29 yard touchdown pass from Kevin Burke to cut the deficit to 30-21. The drive took 1:56 off the clock and went 9 plays in all. After forcing a punt, the Purple Raiders made it 30-28 with Logan Nemeth waltzing in from 3 yards out. An interception by Mount Union led to a field goal and a 31-30 lead with 5:05 remaining in the third quarter.
After failing to get any offense going, the Warhawks had the perfect response. Behrendt hit Dennis Moore on a screen pass and the great blocking he had allowed him to run 75 yards to the house for a 37-31 win. The Warhawks next drive nearly ended in a pick six, but it was dropped by Will Hiteshue. However, the Purple Raiders got a pick on the next play when Behrendt threw into triple coverage and it was intercepted by Nick Rodriguez. Mount Union’s offense was back into the red zone, but Burke was intercepted by Zach Nellis to end the scoring threat. At the end of three quarters, Wisconsin-Whitewater held a 37-31 lead.
Whitewater began the fourth quarter with the ball and ended up getting a 31 yard field goal to make it 40-31. Mount Union needed a response and appeared to have a 22 yard touchdown pass, but a holding call wiped that off the board. The Purple Raiders were forced to settle for a field goal and drilled it to make it 40-34 with 9:33 left to play in the game. The Warhawks responded with a field goal of their own to make it 43-34. More importantly, they took over 6 minutes off the clock to leave 3:05 remaining for Burke and Mount Union to make the comeback.
Mount Union appeared to be on their way to an ultra-quick score, but Burke’s 34 yard pass to the Whitewater 12 yard line was taken off the board due to a holding penalty. Five plays later, Burke overthrew his target and picked Burke off for the fourth time in the game.
Matt Behrendt went 25 of 37 for 370 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 picks. Jordan Ratliffe finished with 15 yards on 24 carries while Dennis Moore had 74 yards on 18 carries. Moore also had 3 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown receiving. Jake Kumerow had 7 catches for 118 yards and a score while Justin Howard caught 7 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Kevin Burke went 25 of 47 for 323 yards with 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also ran for 80 yards on 10 carries. Logan Nemeth finished with 90 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Roman Namdar led the team with 7 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. Luc Meacham caught 6 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown while Taurice Scott had 7 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
For Wisconsin-Whitewater, it was their sixth national title overall with every win coming at the expense of Mount Union. Whitewater’s head coach, Lance Leipold, will now take over the Buffalo Bulls of the FBS after winning all 6 of their National Championships. Leipold has a record of 109-6 in 8 years at Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Mount Union’s last win in the Stagg Bowl against Whitewater was in 2008. They also beat them in 2005 and 2006.