/playoffs/2013/warhawks-channel-near-perfection

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 Framingham State 50, Massachusetts Maritime 7
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Muhlenberg 56, at Juniata 40
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at Dean 25, Becker 10
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Salisbury 27, at TCNJ 7
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MIT 38, at Catholic 21
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Merchant Marine 56, at Maine Maritime 31
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at Hobart 34, Endicott 17
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at Morrisville State 44, Nichols 22
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at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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at Albright 9, Widener 7
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Christopher Newport 16, at Montclair State 8
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at Westminster (Pa.) 41, Bethany 14
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Middlebury 41, at Bowdoin 14
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Williams 24, at Colby 7
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Amherst 36, at Hamilton 6
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Ursinus 35, at Moravian 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 51, at Bates 0
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at LaGrange 38, Brevard 28
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Geneva 33, at Thiel 24
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at Plymouth State 37, Mass-Dartmouth 7
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Kean 28, at Southern Virginia 14
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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Union 17, at Curry 14
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at Carnegie Mellon 37, Thomas More 17
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Lycoming 44, at King's 41
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at Western New England 21, Husson 14
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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at DePauw 51, Wooster 24
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at Ohio Wesleyan 37, Allegheny 21
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at Misericordia 43, Wilkes 14
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at N.C. Wesleyan 35, Maryville (Tenn.) 25
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Huntingdon 31, at Ferrum 28
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at McDaniel 27, Gettysburg 20
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at Buffalo State 33, RPI 21
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Franklin and Marshall 27, at Susquehanna 24
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at Denison 45, Oberlin 17
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 10, Westminster (Mo.) 7
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at Eureka 44, Crown 20
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at Lebanon Valley 24, FDU-Florham 14
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Ohio Northern 35, Otterbein 7
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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at Rose-Hulman 37, Defiance 14
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at Marietta 49, Muskingum 25
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Franklin 59, at Bluffton 30
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at Hanover 64, Anderson 21
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Mount St. Joseph 31, at Manchester 14
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Worcester State 34, at Westfield State 10
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Coast Guard 13, at Norwich 9
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at Fitchburg State 31, Bridgewater State 29
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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at Millsaps 17, Sewanee 13
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at Rhodes 35, Birmingham-Southern 9
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at Hendrix 36, Austin 24
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at Martin Luther 34, Greenville 20
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Final - OT
at Trinity (Texas) 41, Chapman 35
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at Loras 73, Buena Vista 34
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at Wartburg 30, Washington U. 20
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at Gustavus Adolphus 51, Hamline 7
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Augsburg 48, at Carleton 28
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at Bethel 64, St. Olaf 7
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at Luther 21, Dubuque 17
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at Central 52, Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Simpson 38, at Coe 33
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Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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St. Norbert 66, at Grinnell 13
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at Knox 13, Ripon 6
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at MacMurray 32, Iowa Wesleyan 14
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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Southwestern 37, at Louisiana College 34
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Monmouth 26, at Macalester 0
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at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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at Springfield 42, WPI 10
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at Cornell 55, Beloit 36
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at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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at Hartwick 24, St. John Fisher 21
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at UW-La Crosse 41, Carroll 6
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at St. Scholastica 37, Minnesota-Morris 3
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at George Fox 44, UW-Eau Claire 0
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at Western Connecticut 37, Salve Regina 23
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at UW-Stevens Point 41, Adrian 28
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at Wesleyan 24, Tufts 17
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at Averett 35, Methodist 6
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at Berry 28, Centre 14
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at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Grove City 24, St. Vincent 14
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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Carthage 55, at Augustana 14
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Chicago 28, at Illinois College 7
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at Sul Ross State 35, McMurry 7
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at Wilmington 37, Capital 30
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Lake Forest 42, at Lawrence 26
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at East Texas Baptist 79, Belhaven 40
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Arizona Christian 56, at Whittier 38
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Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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Final
at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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Final
at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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