Football: ‘Hawks fly over Bengals, 55-14

 

By Kevin Cunningham

Just over a calendar year and an 11-hour drive later, the UW-Whitewater football team finally got its revenge on the Buffalo State Bengals, the team that ended the Warhawks’ 46-game winning streak a season ago.

“In the back of our heads, there definitely was [a revenge factor] because of what happened last year,” junior quarterback Matt Behrendt said. “We knew what we had to do. We just treated it like any other game, executed and came out on top.”

The Warhawks had no let up from the get-go, as the team jumped out to a 24-0 lead over the Bengals by the end of the first quarter.

At the end of the first half, the ’Hawks led 45-7, and Behrendt said that head coach Lance Leipold told the team to not take their feet off the gas pedal.

“He said that we played a pretty good half,” Behrendt said. “We had to keep attacking, and it’s a four quarter game, no matter what the score is. That’s how we treat every game.”

At the end of the rain-filled game, the ’Hawks defeated the previously undefeated Bengals, 55-14. While both sides of the ball played well, the defense caused five turnovers on the day and scored on two fumble recoveries from 30 and 37 yards away.

It didn’t take long for the USA College Football Preseason First Team All-American wide receiver Tyler Huber to make his presence felt. Huber missed the team’s first game due to injury, but 94 seconds into his 2013 debut, Huber caught a 34-yard touchdown pass thrown by Behrendt to put the ’Hawks ahead, 7-0.

By the end of the first quarter, the ’Hawks outgained the Bengals in total yards, 189-14, and had nine first downs compared to the opposition’s one.

Behrendt threw two touchdowns in the opening quarter, while the third touchdown was thrown by senior wide receiver Steve Morris, who hooked up with fellow junior wide receiver Jake Kumerow for 36 yards.

The second forced fumble in the game was caused by senior linebacker Kyle Wismer. Senior defensive back Andrew Keister picked up the fumble and scored from 30 yards out to give the team a 45-7 lead in the second quarter.

During the first half, Behrendt threw for 169 yards and four touchdowns. His four touchdowns on the day marked a career high.

Kumerow led the way receiving in the first half with 63 yards and two scores, while senior linebacker Ryan Cortez totaled six tackles.

On the Bengals’ first drive of the second half, junior defensive lineman Mykael Bratchett forced a fumble, and junior defensive back Zach Nellis picked up the fumble and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown.

As the game was well out of reach, the ’Hawks tried different personnel throughout the second half. Freshman quarterback Chris Nelson saw his first action of his Warhawk career, while senior quarterback Tommy Coughlin also got into the game before it was over.

The defense recovered three fumbles on the day and recorded two interceptions. The interceptions were made by junior defensive backs Marcus McLin and Brady Grayvold. Grayvold’s interception marked his second of the season.

The defense allowed 11 Bengals first downs in the game and held them to only 54 yards passing. Wismer was quick to acknowledge how the defense played as a whole.

“The defense overall played really well,” Wismer said. “Marcus McLin played a good game; he had the [61-yard] opening kickoff return as well as an interception. I think if we all keep improving, we can do something pretty special.”

To compare this year’s matchup to last season’s between the two teams, the ’Hawks scored 49 more points this time around, and the defense allowed 174 less yards of total offense.

In last year’s 7-6 defeat, the ’Hawks also scored zero touchdowns, compared to the seven the team scored in this year’s 55-14 victory.

While the trip to Buffalo, N.Y., was a trip meant for business, the team got some extra bonding time, thanks to the long bus rides.

“The trip was nice, even though it was a really long one,” Behrendt said. “We stopped at Niagara Falls and got to see that. That was awesome because I had never seen it before, so that was a great sight. The win was also huge, which made the trip worth it.”

According to the latest D3football.com top-25 poll, the No. 12-ranked ’Hawks’ next opponent is the Waldorf College Warriors.

The Warriors will come into Perkins Stadium with a 0-3 record, giving up a total of 119 points in their three games. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Saturday, Sept. 28.

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