UW-Whitewater advances to Division III semis in comeback

Posted: December 9, 2013 in Sports
Tags: , ,

By Tony Atkins

Whitewater, WI – The UW-Whitewater Warhawks (13-0 overall) were well aware of what was on the line Saturday afternoon as they trotted out of the tunnel and into their NCAA Division III quarterfinal against no. 2 Linfield College (OR).

It wouldn’t be the most polished victory for the Warhawks, but no one was complaining about having to came back to take one over the Wildcats, 28-17.


Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Antwan Anderson dives in for a touchdown. (Photo courtesy of oregonlive.com)

“We could’ve folded up but didn’t,” said Whitewater Defensive Coordinator Brian Borland. “That’s what makes me more proud than anything else.”

It was an uphill battle for the Warhawks early on as they found themselves down early with a trip to the semifinals at stake. On the first drive of the game, the opposing Linfield offense cruised down the field with a five-play, 66-yard drive.

Following that drive, the Wildcats continued to pounce on the Warhawks early at Perkins Stadium. Borland and the Warhawks defense saw enough when Linfield reciever Evan Peterson took advantage of blown cover in the Whitewater secondary by catching a 60-yard touchdown pass.

Linfield Head Coach Joseph Smith understood the importance of establishing that lead early against the four-time national champion Warhawks.

“I don’t think any of us thought we wouldn’t get a huge lead and they wouldn’t make a comeback,” said Smith. “I think against a defense like that, you want to get as many points and hope it’s enough.”

Ultimately, Linfield’s 17 points would not be enough against the four-time national champion Warhawks powered though their early struggles.

While the Wildcats’ 17 was the most any opponent scored against Whitewater all year, the Linfield offense missed out on some key opportunities to further establish their lead.

Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity for Linfield came early on when the Wildcats attempted to run the ball in on fourth and goal from the one yard line. Cornerback Chad Coburn would fumble and the ball was eventually recovered by Whitewater.

Photo courtesy of Linfield College

Photo courtesy of Linfield College

It was a very big day for Warhawks quarterback Matt Behrendt, who went 26 for 36 passing with 275 yards and four touchdowns. He credited his wide receivers for his big day, especially Jake Kumerow, who had 149 yards on seven catches and caught three of his touchdowns.

“It was definitely a plan of attack to have our outside guys one-on-one with their corners,” said Behrendt. “I just have to put the ball close to them and there’s a big chance they’re gonna make a play on it.”

Head Coach Lance Leipold isn’t shocked that his Warhawks are doing well, he admitted about being surprised that his team is still playing in December. Nonetheless, he is certainly happy about his team’s success.

“If you would ask me at the beginning of August if we would still be sitting here, I don’t know if I would I would be saying that, let alone with a week to go.” said Leipold. “I’m extremely proud of this football team, the coaching staff and the things that they’ve done and we’re going to keep rolling and enjoy this thing as long as we can.”

While the Warhawks enjoy Saturday’s victory this week, they will have another big test next week against Mount Union (OH) in the semifinals.


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