Defending Champs Open Playoffs at Home, Host Franklin
UW-Whitewater, the defending NCAA III champions, defeated Franklin College 52-21 in the first round of the NCAA III playoffs Saturday at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater, Wis. The Warhawks, 11-0, will host Trine University, 11-0, Saturday, November 27 at 12:00 in Perkins Stadium.
The first score of the game started with the Whitewater
Timm picked off a Kyle Ray pass and returned it to the 25
of Franklin. Three plays later Lee
Brekke connected with Aaron
Rusch on a ten yard scoring play.
Franklin responded immediately, their next drive covering 57 yards in eight plays. Ray hit Kyle Linville for 26 yards for the tying score at 4:14.
The next score came at 6:00 in the second quarter, with UW-W junior Levell Coppage running 55 yards to put the Warhawks up 14-7.
Ray and Linville hooked up again to knot the score at 14-14, this on a 51 yard pass with 3:12 left in the half.
Not content to run out the clock, UW-W went 70 yards on 10 plays, with 45 of the yards coming on Brekke to Rusch passes, one for a 15 yard TD to send the Warhawks into the locker room leading 21-14.
Whitewater took the second half kickoff, and helped by Corey Knapp 30 yard kickoff return, required just two plays, the second a 54 yard Brekke to Adam Brandes touchdown to give UW-W a 28-14 lead at the 14:13 mark in the third.
The next time the Warhawk offense took the field it had the ball at the Franklin 30 yard line as the result of a 12 yard punt. Eric Kindler booted a 31 yard field goal to boost Whitewater's margin to 31-14 with 11:44 left in the third.
Late in the third Franklin put together its final drive of the day, covering 50 yards in 11 plays. Ray passed to Matt Zimich, seven yards, for the Grizzlie's score. Ray accounted for 40 of the yards on the drive, hitting 5-7 passes for 34 yards and rushing once for six yards.
Whitewater took the ensuing kickoff, with Knapp going 39 yards with the return, and covered the remaining 50 yards in five plays. Brekke and Rusch connected for their third TD of the day, 23 yards, to make it 38-21 Whitewater.
The Warhawk defense set up the next score, on Franklin's next possession, with UW-W linebacker Lane Olson forcing a fumble that teammate Greg Arnold picked up and returned 33 yards to the Franklin 31.
The Warhawk drive that followed resulted in Coppage scoring from 13 yards out to make it 45-21 with 11:29 left in the game.
Again, Whitewater's defense set up the offense, with Matt McCulloch picking off Ray and returning the ball to the Franklin 32. Eight plays later Booker Stanley ended the scoring with a five yard touchdown run.
The game featured a couple of statistical oddities. UW-W quarterbacks had been sacked just three times all season coming in to the game, but the Grizzlie defense recorded three sacks Saturday. And Franklin QB Kyle Ray had thrown just six interceptions in the ten previous games, but was picked off three times by the Warhawks.
The team stats also told a story. Whitewater rushed for 157, 134 of those by Coppage, and the Warhawk defense limited Franklin to minus 11 yards on 26 carries. (The second lowest total allowed by the Whitewater defense. UW-Platteville had minus 12 September 30.) Admittedly some of those minus yards came on sacks (college rules), because Franklin definitely came in planning on throwing the ball. The Grizzlies attempted 72 passes, completed 40 for 373 yards. Zimich caught 17 of Ray's throws for 171 yards and the touchdown.
Whitewater's Brekke, who was making his first collegiate start and who had only thrown two passes this season, started the game in place of injured Matt Blanchard. You would not have known that watching Brekke go 23-30 for 292 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Brekke and Rusch combined for 12 receptions for 169 yards and the three scores. Rusch moved in to third place in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference career records with 3,562 yards receiving, moving past Jeff Gosa of UW-Stevens Point , 3,509 from 1973-76. Rusch also moved in to fourth place in the league record book for touchdowns receiving, now with 31.
Brandes' one TD Saturday moved him into tenth place in the school record book with 18 career TD pass catches.
In addition to his fumble recovery Arnold had two sacks, six tackles and a pass breakup for UW-W. Linebacker Teddy Henkle had nine tackles, one sack and a pass breakup for Franklin.
Trine, champions of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, defeated DePauw University 45-35 in their first round matchup. UW-W and Trine have only met once on the football field, with UW-W defeating (then) Tri-State University 38-0 September 27, 2003 at Tri-State.