The No. 7 ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team was strong in all three phases of the game Saturday in a 63-0 victory over UW-Eau Claire in a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match-up on a soggy day at Perkins Stadium.
The Warhawks (7-1 overall, 4-1 WIAC) used a pair of big plays on special teams in the first half and its strongest passing performance in nearly a decade to record their 14th consecutive win over the Blugolds and 22nd straight triumph at Perkins Stadium.
UW-Whitewater finished with a season-high 582 total yards of offense, including 426 yards passing, its highest output since Nov. 18, 2006, against St. Norbert.
The Warhawks' defense held UW-Eau Claire (0-8, 0-5) to 39 yards, the team's best performance against the pass this season. The team's shutout was its first since a 37-0 victory at UW-Stout on Oct. 11, 2014.
Junior quarterback Chris Nelson finished 11-of-14 for 291 yards and tied a career high with four touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Marcus Hudson registered five receptions for a career-best 152 yards and two scores, all in the first half. Overall, four different wide receivers caught touchdowns.
Senior running back Jordan Ratliffe collected 10 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns to lead the rushing attack.
Senior linebacker Justin Dischler paced a balanced defensive effort with six tackles, including one of UW-Whitewater's four sacks on the day. Sophomore linebacker Kyle Schiedemeyer registered five tackles, including two for a loss, and senior defensive back Ryan Winske finished with five stops, including one for a loss.
The Blugolds held the ball for more than 37 minutes of the contest, but UW-Whitewater recorded several big plays, averaging 11.4 yards per play, including 22.4 yards per pass attempt.
After forcing UW-Eau Claire into a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, junior tight end Jordan Gruettner blocked the Blugolds' punt inside the UW-Eau Claire 10-yard line.
Two plays later, Nelson hit Hudson from 10 yards out to make it 7-0 just over three minutes into the game.
Following a turnover on downs, Nelson found Hudson for 52 yards, and Ratliffe dove inside the left pile-on for a 20-yard scoring run to double the Warhawks' advantage with 4:44 left in the quarter.
UW-Whitewater added two more scores in the quarter, one on a 53-yard strike from Nelson to Hudson and the other – with just two seconds left in the period – on a 54-yard flea flicker pass play from Nelson to senior wide receiver Joe Worth.
After five straight punts, the Warhawks took a 35-0 advantage with 1:03 left in the first half as Nelson found junior tight end Brent Campbell from 20 yards away.
UW-Whitewater opened the second half with a seven-play, 83-yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Ratliffe to make it a 42-point game with 11:34 on the clock.
On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore tight end Tony Gumina forced a fumble, which was recovered by junior linebacker Jordan Strasburg and returned 24 yards for another score.
The Warhawks found the end zone two more times in the second half.
After an interception by junior defensive back Vince Mason, who now has a team-high four for the year, freshman quarterback Canton Larson ran in from three yards out after completing 20-plus yard passes to Campbell and junior tight end Logan Solano on the 71-yard drive.
In the fourth, freshman quarterback Cole Wilber completed his first career touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Mitchell Dess from 68 yards out with 12:00 left in the contest.
UW-Whitewater continues WIAC play next Saturday at UW-River Falls. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. in the team's regular season road finale.