- Thanks to junior running back Dennis Moore and a
resilient defense, departing Wisconsin-Whitewater coach
Lance Leipold gets one last shot at yet another national
scored on a 33-yard run with five minutes remaining to
give the defending champion Warhawks a 20-14 victory over
Linfield on Saturday in the Division III semifinals.
Whitewater (14-0), which has won five of the last seven
national titles, will face No. 3 Mount Union (14-0) next
Friday night in the Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va. Mount Union,
which lost to Whitewater in last year's final, advanced
with a 70-21 rout of fourth-ranked Wesley. It will be the
ninth time in 10 seasons that Whitewater and Mount Union
have met in the final, with the Warhawks winning five.
victory gives Leipold a shot at his sixth championship in
his final game before he takes over at the University of
Buffalo. Leipold is 108-6 at Whitewater, including 33-1 in
the playoffs. The Warhawks have won 31 consecutive games,
the longest winning streak in any division of college
not about my last game," said Leipold. "It's
about our players and the chance to play a 15th ballgame.
That's where the focus needs to be. They earned their
chance to be there, just like Mount Union has."
run capped a nine-play, 80-yard go-ahead drive after
Linfield had rallied from a 14-0 deficit to tie it 14-14.
The conversion kick was blocked.
was a great block from the O-line. I think I broke one
tackle and just tried to cross field and outran
guys," said Moore, who finished with 112 yards on 19
carries. "It was just a great spark for the team. We
needed something at that point, we needed a spark and that
10th-ranked Wildcats (11-2) drove to the Whitewater 20 on
its last possession, but quarterback Sam Riddle was sacked
and fumbled on fourth-and-3. The Warhawks then got the one
first down needed to run out the clock. It was the fourth
time Whitewater has knocked Linfield out of the playoffs.
had our chances," said Linfield coach Joseph Smith.
"As poorly as we played in the first half, on the
things that we could control, to come back and have a
chance to win that game, I was really proud of our
who was limited to 64 yards passing and one yard rushing
in the first half, engineered two third-quarter scoring
drives as the Wildcats, who entered averaging 47.7 points
per game, erased a 14-0 deficit.
was awarded a recovery on a Warhawk fumble at the
Whitewater 33 after officials overturned the on-field call
after review. The Wildcats responded with a six-play
scoring drive, capped by Riddle's 14-yard pass to tight
end Levi Altringer.
ensuing possession, the Wildcats tied it at 14-14 when
Riddle capped an 88-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown
comeback was typical of a Linfield team that played its
final playoff games on the road, traveling almost 7,000
miles, and suffered the tragic death of a player when
sophomore linebacker Parker Moore was stabbed in a
convenience store after the last regular-season game.
have to take my hat off to Joe Smith and Linfield,"
said Leipold. "An excellent football team, but you
really look at everything that they've had to go through,
through this playoff run. The tragedy within their
program, the travel, the way had to go through to get to
this point and then play down to the wire like that.
That's what you hope for when you get to this point of the
season, that you have those games."
Warhawks took a 14-0 halftime lead behind two touchdown
passes from Matt Behrendt. Whitewater's first score was
set up by a punt downed at the Linfield 1. On the first
play, Riddle's pass from his own end zone was intercepted
by safety Ryan Winske at the Linfield 32. After two
running plays gained 11 and 13 yards, Behrendt hit Jake
Kumerow with an 8-yard scoring pass to make it 7-0 with
4:56 left in the first quarter.
second score came when Linfield's all-out blitz was
countered by a screen pass to running back Dennis Moore
for a 46-yard touchdown.
the half, the Warhawks recovered a mishandled punt at the
Linfield 16, but Behrendt's third-down pass was
intercepted in the end zone by Kyle Belcher.
longtime Whitewater coach Forrest Perkins, for whom the
Warhawks stadium is named, died earlier Saturday at the
age of 94. Perkins coached Whitewater for 29 seasons, from
1956 through 1984, compiling a 189-89-7 record. He also
was the school's athletic director, as well as its first
baseball coach and track and field coach.