The NCAA's longest win streak is intact. UW-Whitewater, ranked number one in both Division III polls, defeated UW-Stevens Point 27-14 Saturday afternoon before 11,448 fans in Perkins Stadium in Whitewater, Wisconsin.
They kept several other streaks alive. UW-Whitewater has won fifteen consecutive games in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and the Warhawks won their nineteenth game in Perkins Stadium. The last loss, in both categories, was to UW-Stevens Point October 25, 2008.
Glass half empty, or half full. What to make of the first quarter depends on your point of view. Neither team was very offensive, totaling just seven first downs between them.
UW-SP had the first opportunity, but Jared Fohrman, number one in the NCAA III statistics, missed a 40 yard field goal attempt.
Or maybe it was the defense, with Whitewater defensive lineman Jake Hohlstein recovering a fumble by Pointer quarterback Jake Swank on the UW-SP 38 yard line.
The Whitewater offense capitalized, using seven plays to break the scoreless duel. Tailback Levell Coppage, who accounted for 36 of the yards on the drive, ran the last nine for the score.
When the quarter ended UW-Whitewater had equaled its season low with just seven points, something they also did against UW-River Falls October 23.
Whitewater's second score ended the shortest drive of the season, again thanks to the defense. After downing a Whitewater punt in the end zone, UW-SP had a first and ten at their 20. On the first play Swank was in pass formation, but he mishandled the snap and with the ball rolling free Warhawk defensive lineman Jake Keeser emerged from a scramble with the ball at the six. Matt Blanchard hit fullback Bernie Tamsett for the score to make it 14-0 Whitewater with 1:19 left in the half.
Midway through the third quarter Whitewater's defense provided another opportunity, when defensive back Steve McCollom picked off Swank and set the UW-W's offense at the on the Pointer 38 yard line.
Striking while the metal is hot, Aaron Rusch, the leading receiver in UW-W history, took the ball 37 yards on an end around, and Coppage, the leading scorer in WIAC history, took it the final yard to make it 21-0 at 8:30.
Turnabout being fair play, the Pointers scored on their first play after taking the kickoff. Swank hooked up with Anthony Aker for a 60 touchdown, the longest pass play UW-W has allowed this season. Point cut the margin to 21-7 with 8:12 in the third. The play also marked the first time this season that UW-W had allowed an opponent to score in the third quarter.
Now it was Whitewater's turn, as UW-W marched 72 yards on 13 plays, ending with Eric Kindler's 19 yard field goal, and Whitewater led 24-7 at 1:31 in the third.
Ball back in Point's court, and they fashioned a four play drive that covered 70 yards. The big play in the drive was a 47 yard run by Keith Ingram, the longest rush yielded by UW-W's defense this season. Swank found Theo Maglio for a 16 yard score, cutting Whitewater's lead to 24-14 with 0:15 left in the quarter.
The fourth quarter reverted to first quarter form, with Kindler's 32 yard field goal at 13:35, making it 27-14 Whitewater, the only scoring in the frame.
Coppage rushed 38 times for 179 yards for UW-W to surpass Chad Wurth in the UW-W record in second with 4,433 yards. Coppage moves into third in the WIAC record book behind Andy Moriarty (2004-07) of UW-Oshkosh in second with 4,496 career rushing yards. Whitewater's Justin Beaver (2004-07) still tops both lists with 6,584 career rushing yards. Blanchard went 16-24 for 205 yards, without an interception. Rusch caught five passes for 57 yards, and Adam Brandes had four for 93 yards. Linebacker Max Ford led the Warhawk defense with six tackles, one sack, and one tackle for a loss.
Swank completed 10 of 30 passes for 184 yards, with the two TD's and one pick. Six of those passes went to wide out Jared Jenkins for 85 yards. Ingram wound up with 80 yards on 7 carries. Defensive back Joe Mleziva led both teams with 14 tackles, nine of them solo.
UW-W, 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the WIAC, will face the UW-Oshkosh Titans at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh next Saturday. Whitewater will close the regular season November 13 at home, hosting UW-La Crosse at 1:00 in Perkins Stadium. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the University Center on the main campus mall Monday-Friday during normal business hours. Tickets are also sold at the stadium on the day of the game. Call (262) 472-2222 for ticket information.
Saturday's attendance is the second best in school history, and in the history of the WIAC and Division III football in Wisconsin. In fact, if not for October 9 of this year when the Warhawks drew over 12,000 fans for the Stout game, it would have been the largest.
UW-Stevens Point, in the "others receiving votes" in both national D3 polls, is 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the WIAC.