UW-W Perfect 10-0, Await NCAA Playoff Berth
Fifth-ranked UW-Whitewater defeated UW-River Falls 43-6 Saturday afternoon in Perkins Stadium, earning the Warhawks' eighth Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title in the last nine years, sole possession of the title for the seventh time, and the sixth undefeated league slate in that span. UW-W, 10-0, will begin play in the NCAA III playoffs Saturday, November 23, with the field annoucement Sunday night.
UW-W started fast, with Matt Behrendt connecting to Jake Kumerow on a 45 yard pass on the first play of the game. Four plays later Behrendt hooked up with Kyle Christensen on a four yard scoring play. Eric Kindler's kick made it 7-0 with just 1:05 off the clock.
River Falls answered later in the first quarter with a 15 play, 74 yard drive that ended at 9:04 with a Tyler Ledbetter to Jordan Christianson 21 yard pass, the Falcons' first pass attempt of the game and, as it turned out, the only pass the Falcons would attempt in the first half. UW-RF went for two on the extra point, but the rush attempt failed.
River Falls couldn't get out of its own side the rest of the half.
Facing a third and 17 at their 18, Ledbetter's fumble was recovered by Josh Williams at the River Falls eight, and two four yard runs by Booker Ross put UW-W in front 14-6 at 11:32 in the second quarter.
On their next possession UW-RF was forced to punt, but Will Jensen's kick was blocked by Loussaint Minett back through the end zone for a Whitewater safety and a 16-6 lead at 9:30.
When the Warhawks got the ball after the safety they rolled 57 yards in 1:52, ending with Jordan Ratliffe's six yard run and Kindler's extra point to increase the lead to 23-6 at the 7:33 mark.
Jensen's next punt skipped along the ground and rolled dead, setting the Warhawks up at the River Falls 33. On the Warhawks' first play, Behrendt hit Tyler Huber for the touchdown. Kindler's PAT was blocked, the first block since September 12, 2009, and Whitewater's lead stood at 29-6 with 5:18 left in the half.
In the third quarter River Falls moved the ball to the Whitewater 33.
On the second play of Whitewater's following possession, Ryan Givens swung around the left end for a 67 scoring jaunt, the longest rush of the year for the Warhawks. Kindler's kick at 8:35 upped the lead to 36-6.
Facing a third and ten at the RF 40, backup quarterback Chris Nelson hit Zach Howard for the score with 3:47 left in the third, Nelson's first TD pass of the season, and Whitewater's lead was 43-6 after Kindler's kick.
UW-W limited River Falls to 11-19 passes for 86 yards, the lowest numbers of the season for the Falcons in all three categories and the second time this season Whitewater has held an opponent under 100 yards passing. The Warhawk defense also limited the Falcons to 135 yards rushing, the lowest number by a UW-W opponent this season. The three fumbles recovered by UW-W tied the season high. Senior linebacker Cole Klotz tied his team season high with 11 tackles (5 solo).
On the plus side for River Falls, the Falcons were penalized five times for 41 yards, their lowest total of the season.
The Whitewater offense wasn't on the field much, with a season low 30 rushing attempts and season low with 13 pass completions.
UW-W will be making its eighth NCAA playoff appearance in nine years. The Warhawks advanced to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, the Division III championship game, in the seven years prior to last year, winning national titles in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.