The No. 1 ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team scored 10 points in the final two minutes of the first half and held a strong passing game in check defensively Saturday to defeat 14th-ranked UW-Platteville 17-7 in a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown at Perkins Stadium.
The 21st annual George Chryst Bowl drew a WIAC and school record crowd of 15,287 and marked the 36th consecutive win for the Warhawks (4-0 overall, 1-0 WIAC), good for the longest in NCAA football.
Senior defensive lineman Zach Franz tallied five tackles and two of UW-Whitewater's six sacks. He was named the Warhawks' Defensive Most Valuable Player of the game.
UW-Whitewater held the Pioneers (3-1, 0-1) to 26 carries for minus-2 yards, the fewest allowed by the Warhawks since November 26, 2011, when the team surrendered a meager minus-5 yards against Franklin in the second round of the NCAA Playoffs.
Junior linebacker Paul Foster contributed a team-best 10 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. Senior defensive back Ryan Winske finished with eight stops and one interception. On a huge day for the defensive line, junior Brandon Tamsett added seven tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, and junior John Flood had four stops, including two for a loss.
Sophomore wide receiver Adam Korpela posted three receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown, and was named the team's Offensive MVP.
Junior quarterback Chris Nelson finished 9-of-20 for 149 yards and a score. Senior running back Jordan Ratliffe registered a career-high 33 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown.
The Warhawks controlled the ball in the first quarter, holding it for nearly 10 minutes, but failed to score in the period for the first time since last season's contest at UW-Platteville on Nov. 1, 2014.
After a touchdown gave the Pioneers the lead nearly 10 minutes into the second quarter, UW-Whitewater responded with an eight-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game at 7-7 with 1:27 left in the half. Nelson found Korpela down the right sideline in the end zone for a 36-yard score, Korpela's first of the season.
Following a UW-Platteville punt, Nelson found Korpela for 33 yards and sophomore tight end Tony Gumina for 25 yards on consecutive plays to set up a 21-yard field goal by junior kicker Lake Bachar with four seconds remaining in the half to put the Warhawks ahead for good.
UW-Whitewater forced the Pioneers into a three-and-out to start the third quarter, then took advantage of a botched snap and shanked punt of minus-9 yards.
Starting from the UW-Platteville 20-yard line, Nelson hit Gumina for 14 yards. Ratliffe carried on the next play, trucking a defender over the goal line for a six-yard touchdown to give the Warhawks a 10-point advantage with 13:27 on the clock.
UW-Whitewater held defensively the rest of the way, forcing two punts and two missed field goals to go along with Winske's interception midway through the third.
The Warhawks wrapped up the win following a missed field goal with 1:21 to go.
The rivalry game is named in honor of former UW-Platteville coach George Chryst, who died suddenly in 1992 after leading the Pioneers to a 79-60-2 record and the 1980 conference championship. The George Chryst Bowl was dedicated in 1995 and the Miner's Axe became the rivalry trophy.
Chryst's wife, Patty, was on the field for the postgame presentation of the Axe. Defensive lineman Andrew Robinson (seven tackles, 3.0 TFLs) was named Defensive MVP for UW-Platteville. Wide receiver Patrick Sheehan (seven receptions, 77 yards) was selected Offensive MVP.
At halftime, all football alumni in attendance were recognized as well as the anniversary of six conference championships – 1960 (55 years), 1975 (40), 1980 (35), 1990 (25), 2005 (10) and 2010 (5).
Former coach Forrest Perkins, who passed away in December of 2014, was memorialized at halftime. Perkins led UW-Whitewater to 11 league championships and a 190-88-8 record, the most coaching wins in school history, in his 29 seasons at the helm.
The Warhawks continue conference play next Saturday at No. 17 UW-Oshkosh. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. The game is scheduled to be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable Sports. Check local listings for channel information.