Warhawks put it all together
WHITEWATER —?UW-Whitewater football head coach Kevin Bullis said his team’s performance against Wittenberg may have been the best of the season. It’s hard to argue with Bullis’ assessment after his Warhawks dominated the Tigers in all facets of the game Saturday afternoon at Perkins Stadium.
The Warhawks (12-0) scored 30 unanswered points, rolled up 496 total yards and cruised to 37-9 victory over Wittenberg and extended their home playoff winning streak to 33.
Whitewater running back Drew Patterson returned from an injury to score a pair of touchdowns, while the Warhawk defense allowed just 69 rushing yards to propel Whitewater into the quarterfinals against John Carroll. The Blue Streaks, who handed Mount Union its first regular-season loss since 2005, needed double overtime to outlast visiting Wesley 20-17.
The Warhawks certainly will need the same effort to get past John Carroll.
“We knew they were going to be a physical team like a WIAC team but you didn’t see that in their running game but for whatever reason they didn’t push that against us,” Bullis said. “I’m really proud of our guys in a sense of putting the whole thing together, especially in a playoff game.”
The Tigers’ passing game had initial success on the opening drive, advancing to the Warhawk 1- yard line. That eventually set up a Will Gingerly 18-yard field goal to make it 3-0. But Whitewater defense didn’t allow much after that, leaving it up to the offense to unleash its balanced attack.
“It’s a lot easier when the offensive line gives you time and your receivers make plays,” said Warhawk quarterback Cole Wilber, who missed last week’s game with a concussion. “Any quarterback would like that, really.”
Kicker Will Meyer was the early benefactor of the offensive surge, booting three straight field goals to make it 9-3 Whitewater in the second quarter.
Wittenberg’s defense, however, finally started to wear down late in the second quarter as Patterson bounced off a defender and walked into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 16-3.
The Tigers (10-2) had a chance to cut the lead at the start of the third quarter after they recovered a Patterson fumble at the Warhawk 35. But two plays later, cornerback Vince Mason’s diving interception stymied Wittenberg’s momentum.
“If you had to pick a point in the ball game where there was a big game it was right there with good field position” Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham said. “But we just turned the ball right over.”
The Warhawks then tacked on a pair of grueling scoring drives of 81 and 70 yards that were capped by a Chris Nelson 3-yard touchdown pass to Brent Campbell and Patterson 2-yard touchdown. That made it 30-3 Whitewater.
“The WIAC is a war of attrition making it through that conference eventually pays dividend in the playoffs,” Bullis said. “We were able to get a long list of injured players back including Nate Trewyn at center, Campbell at tight end, Wilber, Patterson, and John Flood today.”
Wittenberg, meanwhile, clearly lost the war of attrition as starting quarterback Jake Kennedy and backup Tanner Clarke both left with shoulder injuries.
“I don’t think anybody goes into games with game plans to be down to third guy at quarterback,” Fincham said. “It’s unfortunate and it is just part of football.”
Clarke managed a 3-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter before his injury to make it 30-9. But Nelson quickly answered with 4-yard touchdown pass to Manny Jones to put the finishing touches on the victory. “I told our team after the game that there’s nothing like accomplishing a goal, and we did that today” Bullis said.
Now it’s up to Whitewater to accomplish its next goal of getting past John Carroll. Saturday’s kickoff is set for 12:05 p.m. at Perkins Stadium.
Whitewater won its 33rd straight postseason home game, while extending its overall winning streak to 32 games at Perkins Stadium … The playoff win is the 49th in school history for UW-Whitewater ... Patterson’s 70-yard day put him over 1,000 yards, extending UW-Whitewater’s string of 1,000-yard backs to 13 straight seasons.