December 21, 2013

Warhawks channel near perfection

More news about: UW-Whitewater

UW-Whitewater celebrates its fifth title, won in dominating fashion.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
More photos from Stagg Bowl XLI 

By Ryan Tipps
D3sports.com

SALEM -- O, my!

UW-Whitewater’s offense channeled near perfection on Division III’s biggest stage Friday evening, and Mount Union discovered just how unforgiving Warhawk momentum can be.

Stagg Bowl XLI closed 52-14, the most lopsided national championship game in more than a decade, and Whitewater re-established itself as the top of the pantheon just one year after a 7-3 season and missing the playoffs.

The Warhawks have spent the postseason defying opponents with their defense, yet it was the offense that set the tone early, marching 75 yards on seven plays in the game’s first drive. Capping it was a 17-yard touchdown pass to All-American Jake Kumerow.

“The goal is to win a national championship. And there’s no better feeling,” said Warhawk quarterback Matt Behrendt, who finished Friday by throwing four touchdowns and 40 total on the season. He has just one interception in 15 games.

Perhaps markedly different than previous offensive outings – especially in the postseason, which was labored by some slow starts by UW-W – was Behrendt’s legwork: Coming into the Stagg Bowl, he had minus-69 rushing yards on the year. Friday, he ran for 56 yards, which coupled with 249 passing yards, earning him the game’s most outstanding player honor.

“I saw some holes, and they were trying to double coverage our guys, and that opened up lanes for me,” Behrendt said.

Whitewater was making its eighth Stagg Bowl appearance, each of them being against Mount Union, starting in 2005. Friday night’s victory was the fifth championship in that span, the last coming in 2011.

The team capped the season beating Linfield, Mary Hardin-Baylor and Mount Union, the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 1 teams in the Top 25 poll, respectively.

“It feels better than it did in 2011 because it’s right now,” said defensive end Lou Minett after the game.

Players and coaches often say that they learn more from a loss than they do from a win. Minett said UW-W wouldn’t have made it to Salem this year if the struggles of 2012 never existed.

UW-W coach Lance Leipold is quick to say that from his 94-6 record over the past seven season, his losses stand out much more than his wins. It’s clear, though, that some wins deep in December make an impact.

“When you can play a game like that against a great program like Mount Union,” Leipold said, “that’s a pretty significant exclamation point on a very exciting season.”

And this season offered no guarantees.

“When we broke camp back in August,” he said, “I never thought we’d probably be sitting here. We were fighting our way back after last season, and this group was proud and determined.”

Wide receiver Tyler Huber was coming off a broken leg from last year, and doubts about the team from outsiders were certainly present.

Toward the end of the season, Leipold said he was particularly happy to have Kumerow and Huber on the field at the same time. They combined for 168 yards Friday and all four UW-W receiving touchdowns. Perhaps one of the most dramatic moments of the night was a touchdown grab by Kumerow, dragging his toes as he pulled in the pass nearly out of bounds in the front corner of the end zone.

Over the course of the evening, the tide also turned on interceptions. Brady Grayvold set a program record with his ninth interception, including a pick-6 that wrapped up the game’s scoring midway through the fourth quarter.

Both Whitewater and Mount Union had fumble recoveries that gave them great field position and on which they both used to reach the end zone.

The Whitewater defense consistently snuffed any momentum that Mount Union attempted to build, including a forced fumble by Marshall Rutherford in the first minute of the third quarter. Rutherford ripped the ball from Mount Union running back Bradley Mitchell’s arms and gave Mount little opportunity to put its halftime adjustments into play.

Whitewater poured it on from there, turning a 21-14 score at the break into the 38 point lead behind five scoring efforts that gave us the final. It was a dominating performance that showed how far a team can climb over 12 months. And it earned Leipold D3football.com Coach of the Year honors.

“I think what it really shows,” Leipold said, “is some of the things that were accomplished before and again today. You have to go out and earn it … and we didn’t earn it last year."

This year, they certainly did.

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Bridgewater State 34, Fitchburg State 25
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
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at Hobart 27, Union 23
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at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
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at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
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MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
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at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
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at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
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St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
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at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
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at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
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at Western New England 59, Curry 28
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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Colby 9, at Williams 7
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at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
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at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
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Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
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at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
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Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
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at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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Final
Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
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at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
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at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
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at Springfield 28, WPI 23
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at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
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at Denison 45, Wooster 7
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
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at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
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at King's 21, Lebanon Valley 17
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at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
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at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
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at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
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at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
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at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
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at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
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Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
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Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
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at Centre 49, Chicago 27
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at Mount St. Joseph 38, Manchester 19
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Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
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at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
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Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
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UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
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at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
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at Westminster (Mo.) 35, Greenville 14
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Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
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Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
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Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
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at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
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at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
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Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
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at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
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Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
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at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
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Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
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at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
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at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
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Final
at Ripon 33, Knox 19
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Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
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Final
at Geneva 35, Thiel 27
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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Final
UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
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Final
UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
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Final
at Berry 41, Sewanee 3
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Final
Westminster (Pa.) 38, at Bethany 9
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Ohio Wesleyan 29, at Oberlin 16
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Final
at Tufts 17, Wesleyan 14
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Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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Final
at Capital 35, Wilmington 21
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Final
at Southwestern Assemblies 23, Austin 17
Cancelled
Langston at McMurry
Video Live Stats
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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Final
at Chapman 19, Trinity (Texas) 17
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
Box Score Recap
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
Box Score
Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
Box Score
Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
Box Score
Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
Box Score Photos
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
Box Score
Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
Box Score
Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
Box Score Recap
Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
Box Score Recap