41-14 Win over Franklin ... On to NCAA Quarterfinals

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Levell Coppage had 127 rushing yards at halftime for UW-Whitewater.
Photo by Ralph Greenslade for D3sports.com

Greg Arnold accounted for three turnovers and Levell Coppage compiled his eighth career game of 200-plus rushing yards to key UW-Whitewater's 41-14 win over Franklin College at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater, Wis., Saturday in a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III second round playoff victory.

UW-W, 12-0, will host Salisbury University, 11-1 after a 49-47 triple overtime win over Kean University in a NCAA III quarterfinal game, at noon CST Dec. 3 in Perkins Stadium.

UW-Whitewater postseason website
Photo Gallery (courtesy of Andrew Smith)

Coppage rushed 26 times for 221 yards, moving his career total to 7,381 yards -- moving past R.J. Bowers of Grove City (7,353, 1997-2000) into second place all-time in Division III. Nate Kmic of Mount Union has the D-III record with 8,074 (2005-08).

Franklin had the ball at their 28, facing a third and 24, when running back Reece Craig started right and was hit by Warhawk defensive back Noah Timm, forcing a fumble that linebacker Greg Arnold recovered at the Franklin 16. Two Coppage 8-yard runs and Whitewater had a 7-0 lead with 6:11 left in the first quarter.

Franklin was on Whitewater's 41, facing third and 10, when sophomore Jonny West's pass was picked off by Arnold at the 34 yard line. Nine plays later, Coppage took it over from six yards out to up Whitewater's lead to 14-0 with 13:21 in the half. Coppage accounted for 48 of the 64 yards on the drive.

After the Warhawk defense forced a three-and-out, UW-W senior quarterback Matt Blanchard switched it up a bit, hitting wide receiver Tyler Huber for 21 yards, then connecting with Cory Robinson for a 43-yard scoring pass, Whitewater's longest completion of the day. Whitewater led 21-0 with 10:26 on the clock.

Division III's all-time leading rushers
Rusher Yards
1. Nate Kmic, Mount Union 8,074
2. Levell Coppage, UW-Whitewater 7,381
3. R.J. Bowers, Grove City 7,353
4. Justin Beaver, UW-Whitewater 6,584
5. Carey Bender, Coe 6,125

Franklin roused its followers that made the six-hour drive with a 13-play, 57-yard drive that consumed 4:04 and ended with a West 1-yard run with the Grizzlies facing fourth-and-1 at the 1-yard line to make it 21-7 UW-W.

Whitewater went back to the formula that worked earlier, riding Coppage for 48 of 56 yards on the drive, 27 coming on his third scoring run of the day for a 28-7 lead with 3:04 showing.

Franklin wasn't done, using 62 yards and ten plays to cut the lead in half. The touchdown came with the Grizzlies looking at fourth-and-5 at the Whitewater 10. West passed to Keith Cunningham for the score with just 0:20 on the clock to head into the locker room with UW-W leading 28-14.

Whitewater's defense took away the running game from Franklin in the first half, with the Grizzlies totaling minus-12 yards on 15 carries, but Franklin responded with 214 yards passing as West completed 21 of 38 passes. Coppage rushed 14 times for 127 yards in the half.

UW-W's opening drive of the second half was set up by Jared Kiesow's 45 yard kickoff return to Franklin's 43 yard line. Coppage accounted for all of the yards on the drive, six rushes and one reception that led to a 23-yard field goal by Eric Kindler to put UW-W up 31-14 with 10:25 in the third.

Franklin's next possession was halted again, by Arnold. Third and eight at the Franklin 31, Arnold stepped into West's passing lane and his interception, and 23-yard return, gave Whitewater the ball at the Franklin 12. Three plays lost a total of 1 yard, and Kindler's 30-yard field goal increased the Warhawks' lead to 34-14 with 8:02 left in the third quarter.

Whitewater wrapped up the scoring with a 70 yard drive. Coppage rushed for 44 of those yards, and Blanchard and Huber accounted for the final 26 yards for the final tally, 41-14 with 3:15 left in the third.

Whitewater has faced Franklin three times in a year. In the first round of the 2010 NCAA III playoffs, UW-W held the Grizzlies to minus-11 yards rushing. In the second game of the 2011 season, Franklin totaled 40 yards, and Saturday the Warhawks limited FC to minus-5. In the three games Franklin has totaled 24 yards on 82 attempts (0.29/attempt). Arnold has four takeaways this year, with all four of them coming in the two playoff games. He also had an interception in last week's win over Albion College. Last week it was linebacker Jaren Borland who had the big stats, with a 54 yard fumble return to a touchdown and a 56 yard blocked punt that he ran in for a touchdown.

The Grizzlies finished with 209 yards passing, with West going 1-for-10 for minus-5 yards in the second half. Franklin totaled two yards of offense in the second half.

Franklin came into the game with 22 quarterback sacks (2.0/game) and 73 tackles for a loss (6.3/game). UW-W's offensive line, which had given up just six sacks this season, allowed just one sack and three tackles for a loss. The Warhawk defense also had one sack today, but added ten tackles for a loss.

Dec. 14: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Mount Union 16
@ Woodforest Bank Stadium; Shenandoah, Texas
Box Score Recap Photos
Dec. 8: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 31, UW-Whitewater 14
Box Score Recap Photos
at Mount Union 28, Johns Hopkins 20
Video Box Score Recap Photos
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