Football: Warhawks continue to soar

Dec. 4

By Andrea Sidlauskas

The Warhawks football team’s defense has shined throughout the perfect 12-0 season thus far, and Saturday’s test was no different.

It was a classic matchup of top-notch offense versus dominant defense this Thanksgiving weekend, as the ’Hawks took on Franklin College in the second round of the NCAA Division-III playoffs.

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Lance Leipold

According to ncaa.com, coming into the game, the Grizzlies ranked No. 4 in passing and No. 9 in scoring offense in D-III, averaging more than 40 points per game.
But the defensively first-ranked ’Hawks stopped them in their tracks, pummeling the Grizzlies, 33-3.

“It was another outstanding defensive performance by our team to be able to take a prolific offense like that and hold them out of the end zone,” head coach Lance Leipold said. “It sure says a lot about the type of defense we played today, and to win by 30 points at this point in the season, it’s a pretty impressive win.”

Franklin Recap

The ’Hawks made their presence known immediately during the first drive of the game with an interception by junior defensive back Brady Grayvold.

He picked off Jonny West, senior quarterback for Franklin, who led D-III in passing yards and touchdowns.

The interception led to a nine-play drive by the ’Hawks, capped off by a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Matt Behrendt to junior wide receiver Jake Kumerow, which gave the ’Hawks a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.

“The defense came out with a turnover to start the game off, so we ended up putting a great drive together,” Behrendt said. “We took control of the momentum, and that was really key to start the game off like that.”

Grayvold went on to intercept two more passes, including one that was returned for a 41-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

His three interceptions on the day tied a school record, and he leads the ’Hawks’ defense with six of the team’s 20 so far this season.

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Brady Grayvold

“The front seven got a ton of pressure on the quarterback,” Grayvold said. “When we’re putting pressure on the quarterback, he’s got to get rid of it hot, and there’s a chance for a pick, so it felt good.”
His efforts catapulted the ’Hawks’ defense to hold Franklin to just four rushing yards and 301 overall, despite the Grizzlies’ reputation for their high-powered offense.

 The ’Hawks also racked up three sacks, a forced fumble and held Franklin to 9-19 on third-down conversions and 0-5 on fourth-down conversions.

Although the ’Hawks suffered their lowest production of offensive yards so far this season with 79 rushing, their 33 points are the most an opponent has scored on Franklin.

“I think we did enough offensively,” Leipold said. “We purposely played a little conservatively going into the third quarter, trying to shorten the game up, because we were feeling confident that we could move the ball.”

Linfield Preview

Saturday’s victory propels the ’Hawks, ranked No. 5 by the d3football.com poll, one step closer to the Stagg Bowl. They will host the quarterfinal playoff game against No. 2-ranked Linfield, a college out of Oregon, this Saturday at noon.

The ’Hawks have met Linfield twice: once in 2005 in the third round of the playoffs, and once in the semifinal game of the 2009 playoffs. The ’Hawks topped the Wildcats both times.

“We came in with the mentality last week that we might’ve had another week, but this week we came in because it’s playoffs – one loss, you’re done,” senior linebacker Ryan Cortez said. “A playoff run like 2011 was special, but if we can do that again and get everybody running on the same page like we are right now, we have a chance to do big things.”

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