The country's longest winning streak was increased to 22
games Saturday as the Warhawks defeated UW-River Falls 63-14
at Ramer Field in River Falls. With the victory the Warhawks,
ranked number one in the country by D3football.com and the American
Football Coaches Association, remain in first place in the
Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a record of
4-0; 7-0 overall. River Falls remains winless with
a record of 0-7 overall and 0-4 in the WIAC.
UW-W won the toss but elected to defer to the second half so River Falls started the game with the ball on their own 38 after a 23 yard return by Greg Klingelhutz. The Falcons went five plays before punting to the Whitewater one yard line.
On the ensuing drive the Warhawks drove 99 yards that ended with a 19 yard scoring strike from Matt Blanchard to Aaron Rusch. The touchdown was Rusch's 25th career receiving touchdown which ties him for second in the record books with Jim Lesczynski.
The Falcons next drive was stymied after they gained 37 yards on 11 plays before punting the ball away to the 'Hawks. UW-W's next drive resulted in another touchdown, this time on a 19 yard rush by Antwan Anderson which was set up by a 44 yard gain on a pass from Blanchard to Adam Brandes.
River Falls answered with a touchdown on their next possession to narrow the score to 14-7. Their drive covered 70 yards in nine plays; the key plays included a 17 yard completion from BJ Letourneau to Brady Hannigan and a 34 yard completion from Letourneau to John Wahlstrom.
Another Rusch touchdown gave the Warhawks a 21-7 lead with 8:06 remaining in the second quarter. With this touchdown Rusch moves into second place alone on the career receiving touchdown list.
A series of turnovers by both teams were the story of the next three possessions. First a River Falls pass was picked off by Greg Arnold at the UW-W 30, but on the very next play the 'Hawks coughed it up on a fumble and possession returned to the Falcons. Three plays later the Warhawks' Loussaint Minett sacked Letourneau who fumbled with UW-W's Matt McCulloch recovering the ball.
With 4:58 remaining in the first half, UW-W marched 57 yards in nine plays chewing up four minutes and twelve seconds on the clock to extend their lead to 28-7. The drive featured seven rushes by Anderson including the scoring run of seven yards.
The 'Hawks wasted little time to start the second half as they covered 55 yards in seven plays to extend their lead to 35-7. This was also an Anderson series as he carried the ball on six of the seven plays and finished with a 12 yard scoring run.
River Falls went three and out on their next possession and the Warhawks took advantage by scoring another touchdown to go up 42-7. This time it was Blanchard to Rusch for his third receiving touchdown of the game.
On the next possession, the Falcons were only able to cover six yards in six plays while eating up 3:07 on the clock before punting the ball back to the Warhawks. This time it was the Michael Pirtle rushing show as he carried the ball on six of seven plays on the drive with the seventh play a passing touchdown from Lee Brekke to Luke Menzel.
After five plays the Falcons had to punt away the ball to the 'Hawks who turned it over on the next play on a fumble. The Falcons took advantage by tossing a 20 yard strike to bring the score to 49-14.
Another Pirtle touchdown on the next drive gave UW-W a 56-14 lead, and after the Falcons fumbled on their next possession the Warhawks had Pirtle punch another in from 24 yards out to give UW-W a 63-14 lead.
One more drive by each team yielded no points and the game came to a close with the Warhawks walking away with their 22nd straight victory. The win streak is the longest in NCAA football, all divisions, with Division I Boise State the next closest with twenty. Boise State was idle on Saturday and will play their next game on Tuesday, October 26 against Louisiana Tech.
UW-W rushed for 413 yards on 57 carries in the game to River Falls' 112 on 40 attempts. The rushing total is the second highest by the Warhawks in a game this season. UW-W rushed for 463 yards back on September 11 against Dakota State University in Whitewater. Anderson led the way with 240 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
Blanchard went a perfect 10 for 10 in the game for 181 yards and three touchdown tosses. Eric Kindler was a perfect 9 for 9 on extra points for the game, his second perfect game in a row.
Lane Olson led the way with 6.5 tackles, four solo. UW-W recorded two sacks in the game, one by Max Ford, and the other was Minett when he forced the fumble. The Warhawk defense limited the league's leading rusher, Taylor Edwards, to just 41 yards, 79 yards below his season average.
UW-W will return home next weekend for a game against UW-Stevens Point beginning at 1:00 pm in Perkins Stadium. It is Homecoming for Whitewater as well as the Hall of Fame day.