La Crosse, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse football team opened its 2011 season with a 26-7 loss to top-ranked UW-Whitewater Saturday night at Roger Harring Stadium at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex. The Warhawks, also playing in their season opener, earned their 31st straight win overall. The game was a non-conference contest between the two Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference institutions. The teams will play their league game November 12 at UW-Whitewater.
Joel Dettwiler made his head coaching debut with UW-La Crosse. He spent the previous seven seasons as an assistant coach at Wartburg College (Iowa).
UW-Whitewater, which earned its eighth straight win over UW-L, took a 3-0 lead with 10:57 left in the opening quarter on Eric Kindler's first of four field goals in the game as he made a 38-yard attempt. After forcing a UW-L punt on the Eagles' first possession, the Warhawks took a 10-0 lead on a one-yard touchdown run from Levell Coppage with 5:41 remaining in the first quarter.
Kindler added a 33-yard field goal with 2:07 left in the second quarter to make it 13-0 and later added a 41-yard field goal with :18 remaining to give UW-Whitewater a 16-0 halftime lead.
Kindler connected on his fourth goal of the game with 3:21 left in the third quarter this time from 36-yards out.
In the fourth quarter, Desmin Ward scored on a one-yard run with 6:47 remaining to give UW-Whitewater a 26-0 advantage.
UW-L took the ensuing kickoff and drove 67 yards for a touchdown as Mike Butterfield scored on a seven-yard run. UW-Whitewater had a pair of 15-yard personal foul penalties on the drive. The Eagles'Justin Huinker connected on the extra-point.
UW-L finished with 119 yards of offense, including 79 rushing and 40 passing. The Eagles were held to nine first downs and were two-of-11 on third-down.
Lee Lauters led UW-L with 89 yards rushing on 15 attempts. Butterfield was four-of-10 passing for 19 yards and an interception while Andy Sires finished three-of-seven for 21 yards. Jake Welch led the Eagles with two catches for 27 yards.
Christian Hallingstad averaged 45.2 yards on eight punts with a long of 51-yards. He had five punts inside the 20-yard line.
UW-Whitewater totaled 421 yards on offense, including 173 rushing and 248 passing. The Warhawks were seven-of-16 on third-down and won the time of possession, 36:39 to 23:21.
Coppage finished with 108 yards rushing on 21 carries while Matt Blanchard was 18-of-30 passing for 248 yards. Luke Menzel recorded six receptions for 61 yards and Jason Ford had five for 62 yards.
Jack Leahy led UW-L with 12 solo tackles, including 3.0 for loss. Jake Meckstroth had 10 solo tackles while Matthew Buswell totaled 10 tackles, including seven solo. Andrew Walsh recorded 2.5 tackles for loss and Sam Riebau had two pass break-ups.
Kyle Wismer led UW-Whitewater with six tackles. Loussaint Minett had an interception.
UW-L returns to action Saturday, September 10 at sixth-ranked University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) at 6 p.m.